I had an unexpected opportunity to visit with Nick recently. Things with his family have not improved; actually it seems they have gotten worse. He is facing mounting pressure from many angles to abandon his faith and return to his old ways. The pressure comes in the form of veiled threats from officials and family as well as job offers contingent on his return.
As Nick and I sat together, I listened to him recount the struggles of recent days and months. He didn’t try to hide or minimize the possible consequences of ignoring the pressure. But Nick wasn’t concerned about himself. “I’ve made my decision. There’s no turning back. Even if they cut off my head, I’m continuing on with Jesus.” It didn’t strike me at all as a rash, unconsidered, heat-of-the-moment declaration. No, it carried the tone of a calm, resolute intent born from a comprehension of the infinite worth of what he has been given in Christ.
Nick’s primary concern was the consequences for his immediate and extended family members, even though none of them are followers of Jesus. Bad guys don’t play fair, and neither does the evil one. Nick seems prepared to suffer himself, but, understandably so, he’s struggling with the idea of others suffering because of his decision to follow Jesus. For most of us from the West, things like this never even cross our mind, except when we read the stories of believers in distant lands. But this is not uncommon for this part of the world, actually for many parts of the world.
When we parted, Nick didn’t know what to do–stay and endure whatever may come, escape for a while and see if things settle down, relocate permanently, or something else? I’m encouraged–and challenged–by Nick’s faith. I pray for God to give him great wisdom. But most of all I pray that God will sustain Nick’s faith and testimony, and Nick’s life will demonstrate the infinite value of Christ. Will you join me in that prayer?