Friday, May 23, 2008

This Jesus

Earlier this week one of our classmates, Gille, left to go back to Ethiopia, where he pastors. Gille is a soft spoken man who walks with a slight stoop, and you would never know that beneath his gentle manner is a giant of a saint. At breakfast the day he left, he shared his story with us.

During the years that communism controlled Ethiopia it was against the law for two Christians to be together. So, “church” would be conducted between two believers sitting at a public restaurant having tea, as though they were just friends having a casual chat. That was the way they shared the gospel with one another and prayed for one another. Gille said even then you had to be very careful because the government was aggressively persecuting believers and if someone overheard you , they would report you. Amazingly, the church grew rapidly during this time. And in fact it was under communism that Gille became a believer.

Through the communist propaganda that was part of the public school education, he was thoroughly convinced of the communist/Marxist system and believed that all religion was destructive. However, one day he overheard a guy sharing the gospel with someone in a classroom as he passed by. He stopped and listened. As he listened to the story of how Jesus died for our sins, he became intrigued and went into the room and said to the man, you must tell me about “this Jesus” also.

Gille believed in Jesus and went on to become a pastor and under communism he was thrown in jail several times for preaching the gospel.

“But it was wonderful because every time they put us in jail, we preached the Gospel and all the prisoners would get saved. Even the guards got saved and eventually they had to send us home.

“Sometimes they would take us and beat us after we preached, but we just laughed because we were happy that we were preaching the Gospel.”

And I listened and was reminded of how many times I had sat in church, half listening to the sermon, and half thinking about a dozen other things and completely taking for granted the very thing Gille was beaten for.

Today in class our professor, Dr. Lwysha shared a story about some seminary students who were studying the book of Revelation. During their lunch break they would go outside and play basketball, and while they played, the janitor would sit in the stands and read his Bible. One day during one of their basketball games, the janitor erupted into shouts of joy and began jumping up and down. When the students interrupted him and asked him what he was doing, he looked at them and said, “this Jesus, He wins!”

While these seminary students were consumed with the meaning of the seven trumpets and the seven seals and the beast and the woman and arguing over pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib and whatever other theories there are on the tribulation, this janitor picked out the very heart of the story:

This Jesus, He wins!

I was so reminded of that when Gille told his story. How in the midst of the oppression of communism in Ethopia, the Church did so much more than survive – it triumphed! And I’m reminded today, that in the midst of a world that seems to be crumbling down around us, where violence and destruction are rampant, where stories of sexual depravity and natural disasters rule the evening news, I’m wonderfully reminded that in the midst of it all – this Jesus, He wins!

In the midst of our sickness and our loneliness, our struggles in life and in ministry, the heart of our Christian lives, the one truth that makes it all worth while and brings resolution to it all, is that this Jesus, He wins!

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