“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer…Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” These words taken from Revelation 2:10 were written by the Apostle John to Christians living in the ancient city of Smyrna, today known as Izmir, Turkey. This passage is also the text of Scripture I was invited to preach on during my most recent trip to Asia.
According to Open Doors USA, a human rights organization that monitors Christian persecution worldwide, the country I visited ranks high as a place where Christians suffer for professing Christ. It is not unusual for Christians in this part of the world to be detained, imprisoned or even to face death for their allegiance to Jesus.
I was invited to bring encouragement to a host of men and women who daily count the cost of following Christ. I lectured at the largest Bible College in the country, spoke at a national leadership gathering, and preached before a multi-congregational worship service. Many related their own personal stories of perseverance, character and hope in the midst of unimaginable poverty, suffering and even danger.
Paul urged the church in Thessalonica to “pray that the message of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” (2 Thess. 3:1). Many of you prayed as I traveled this past month. I’m deeply grateful for your partnership in prayer that ensures the Lord and His Word be honored through the ministry of BrookLink.