Revival that spreads rapidly often–if not exclusively–is a result of persecution and/or efforts at the very least suppressing God’s people.
The Carto, a bustling street in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem is a perfect example of this reality. The Romans were hellbent on eliminating the Jewish people, their culture and their cities. What’s amazing, and only something God could do, is the Jewish people not only survived, they actually thrived. You could experience this with your own eyes if you walked down the street of Cardo!
In our comfortable American culture, many of us (yes, that includes me!) are distracted by our material blessings and the wonderful freedom the Lord has granted us, and therefore praying for revival can sadly sit on the back burner. Then when you add to the thought of severe persecution being the catalyst for revival, one certainly has to take a step back from self-centered ways.
Consider the church as it stands today – one savior and 12 disciples. The result? There are an estimated 2.2 billion Christians on the planet. Now let’s consider the fate of the disciples/followers: some were stoned (Acts 7:54-59), another hung, and according to extra-biblical sources, one even placed in boiling oil.
There are so many examples, even current day events, that show how many are suffering for the sake of Jesus’ Name and spread of the Gospel… but instead of focusing on the fear factor, let’s take a turn back to focus on the miracles that happen when we stand.
As we consider this hope, let’s return to Cardo – their suffering resulted years later in a flourishing city.
Other examples are how the church exploded when Jesus’ followers were brave enough to go into plague infested areas to care for the sick, or they were fed to lions as entertainment for their captors. The secular people were astonished by their faith and many became Believers because of it.
Looking at modern day persecution in China, according to persecution.org, Chinese Christians grew from under 8 million in 1976 to over 100 million today!
What could happen today in America if the bullseye was placed on Christians? And with the current headlines, it doesn’t seem too far off. We’re already being called “domestic terrorists”.
Does this make you afraid? Or excited?
For example, when you consider Christian persecution in China, you could choose to focus on the torture too morbid to even mention here, or you could focus on the growth of Christianity after seeing the numbers above!
If I find the idea of persecution causing fear or anxiety in my life, I look to Jesus’ powerful words of encouragement “…and lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b, NKJV) I also think of his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10, NKJV)
Where will you look when you become afraid? Even a look at this old city street in Jerusalem that is now a bustling place of joy and prosperity should provide you great hope. Stand firm like the faithful servants before us.