Video: Nacho Libre
Put on the whole armor of God
Asian Access (or A2), a Christian missions agency in South Asia, listed a series of questions that some church planters have been asking new believers who are considering baptism. (Due to safety concerns, Asian Access does not mention the country's name.) The country is predominantly Hindu, but over the past few decades Christianity has grown in popularity—especially among poor and tribal peoples. The following seven questions serve as a reality check for what new followers of Jesus might experience if they decide to "go public" with their decision to follow Christ:
1. Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father?
2. Are you willing to lose your job?
3. Are you willing to go to the village and those who persecute you, forgive them, and share the love of Christ with them?
4. Are you willing to give an offering to the Lord?
5. Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny your faith?
6. Are you willing to go to prison?
7. Are you willing to die for Jesus?
The seven questions serve as a sobering reminder for all Christians from every continent of what it might cost us to follow Jesus. These questions also help Western Christians identify with the threats faced by our brothers and sisters from other countries as they seek to follow Christ.
And it gives you a new identity too.
In 1993, Lt. Col. Gary Morsch joined the Army Reserves as a doctor to care not only for U.S. soldiers, but also for wounded civilians and prisoners of war. In 2005, as a part of the war in Iraq, he was called up to serve as the field doctor for a battalion near the Iranian border. In an article for Today's Christian, he shares a story of something that happened on the last day of his tour of duty:
The Saturday before I left Iraq was one of the most amazing days of my life. I was scheduled to see patients and make rounds at the POW camp, and I asked the chaplain to join me. I wanted to say goodbye to the prisoners. Many of these Muslims had become Christians, and they had been asking for a baptismal service.
The chaplain suddenly decided to conduct a simple service. The POWs gathered around the make-shift baptistery made from a water trough. We baptized about a dozen that day.
During the baptisms, each man expressed that he wished to take a Christian name. One man asked me to write down each of the apostles' names so he could choose one. Another prisoner, named Afshin, asked me to suggest a name. I suggested James, the brother of Jesus, and told him that my father and brother are named James. Since my family name was on my uniform, Afshin asked about Morsch as well.
The chaplain asked me to baptize Afshin. I asked my friend what name he wished to take. He said, "I wish to take the name James Afshin Morsch." With tears in my eyes, I poured water onto his head, baptizing my Muslim friend into the fellowship of Christ. After our baptismal service, James pulled me aside and told me it was an Iraqi tradition to give a good friend a gift. He slowly slipped a ring off his hand.
"This is my wedding ring," he said. "I haven't seen my wife in many years, and I probably will never see her again. I'd like to give it to you."
I was stunned.
"No, James, you must keep it," I eventually said. "Someday you will see your wife again."
"No, I want you to have it," he said, as he pressed the ring into my hand.
We hugged and said a tearful goodbye, and then I walked out of the POW compound. It was time to return home.
I left on a plane full of wounded soldiers. The airstrip was under attack even as we taxied for takeoff. But I was at peace. God had brought me to Iraq to serve soldiers, civilians, and the enemy. But I saw that those categories are meaningless before God. He loves them all, and calls us to serve them all.
Condensed from our sister publication Today's Christian, © 2005 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Todays-Christian.com.