“Pray . . . that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19)
It is just a few days since the world was rocked by the news of bombings in Sri Lanka, detonated by religious extremists, killing hundreds. That same day I stood at the Mt Tambourine Easter Convention and spoke on the closing verses of Paul’s great letter to the Ephesians, urging people to pray for their missionary friends to be fearless in making known the gospel.
It is a difficult thing to pray for people we love who are overseas to make Christ known. There is increasing evidence of the widespread ferocity of the persecution of Christian believers in many countries in the world. It is escalating. And we know these dangers are multiplied for those who seek to win others to Christ.
When we pray for our dear friends to preach the gospel fearlessly we need to know what we are asking. We are asking them to listen to the apostle Peter, when he said, “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened” (1 Peter 3:14). Paul knew what he was asking. In the very next verse after begging people to pray for him to be fearless in preaching the gospel, he adds: “for which I am an ambassador in chains” (Eph 6:20). Preaching the gospel boldly had already landed Paul in prison. Peter and Paul both knew the ‘blessedness’ of suffering for what is right (1 Peter 3:14).
In just a few weeks we will be sitting down to watch the movie based on the life and death of Graham Staines, one of the alumni of BST. Just over twenty years ago the world was rocked by news of the murder of Graham and his two sons, at the hand of religious extremists. The movie tells the story of a man who suffered terribly for righteousness’ sake. And it tells of the mercy and forgiveness of his wife and daughter in the face of this terrible loss.
We still want you to pray that our faculty and students will be fearless in making known the gospel. But you need to be aware of what you are asking in a world that hates Jesus. You will be increasing the threat to their safety if your prayer is answered. But that threat is something Jesus prepared us for when he said to his disciples the night before he died:
18 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world (John 15:18-19).