Mar 29, 2017

Bret Laird
SGA Executive Assistant

. . . the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold
which is perishable, even though tested by fire,
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ
 (1 Peter 1:7). 

SGA has the high privilege and solemn responsibility of serving persecuted churches in several of the most oppressive nations in the world. In one central Asian country, believers are caught between the hammer of radical Islam and the anvil of an authoritative government. Arrests, police raids, and fines are a regular part of their lives. Bibles and Gospel literature are tightly restricted, and the few churches in the country are continually threatened. 

But it is those who have escaped from the cruel clutches of Islam to the loving embrace of Christ who face the most persecution. Recently, a key SGA-sponsored missionary pastor shared the story of one such young man who recently repented and believed the Gospel. 

This young man worked long hours as a taxi driver in order to feed his family, but his car was very old and would constantly break down. His neighbors and friends would tease him saying, “You spend more time under that old car than in it!” They couldn’t understand why he was willing to work so hard for such little pay. But what they didn’t realize was that this car was not only the sole means by which he fed his family, it was a versatile evangelistic tool. While transporting clients, he would softly play Christian music and an audio Bible on his taxi’s radio, and then share the Gospel to those who began asking him questions. 

One day, this young man received a call from a long-time friend who had become a successful and wealthy businessman. The caller said, “I have a business proposition for you, so come and meet me.” When the young man arrived, his friend escorted him into a room, where to his surprise were waiting Imams of the local Islamic court. For several hours, they berated, mocked, and threatened him. “Return to Islam, or face the consequences of being a Kafir (infidel)!” 

His wealthy friend also pled with him, saying that his own reputation and safety was being put at risk since the Imams had given him the responsibility to bring his “apostate” friend back under submission to the Islamic god Allah. Seeing that threats were not persuading the Christian to abandon his new faith, they decided to switch from a “stick” approach to a “carrot” approach. His wealthy friend said, “We all know that you can barely feed your family with that old, broken car of yours. Allah and the Imams are my witnesses, that if you will renounce Christianity and return to Islam, that brand new Lexus* parked outside will be yours. Look, here are the keys! Say the Shahadah (the Islamic creed) and the car is yours!”

This new believer—a mere babe in Christ—looked around. He saw the glaring eyes of the Imams and knew they could make good on their threats. He saw the pleading gaze of his friend and knew that he could also suffer if the council didn’t get what they wanted. And through the window, he saw the shiny glint of that fancy Lexus, and for a moment considered all the societal status and economic opportunity it represented, since this was the car of choice for the country’s elites. Then came the answer that left both his friend and the Islamic council in stunned silence:

Christ bought me with His precious blood. I will not sell Him for a Lexus.

*Editor’s Note: The cost of a Lexus can vary anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 or more depending on which model. These cars are way out of reach for most poverty-stricken believers in the CIS.

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