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The Light, Life, and Ministry of the Church to the Persecuted

The Light, Life, and Ministry of the Church to the Persecuted

 Contributed by Fred Shelton

The Pashtuns are an Iranian ethnic group who are native to Central and South Asia, and recently an underground church pastor who is an important VOC contact was able to pray with and share the power of the word of God that brought light to the soul of two Muslim men. The candlestick is a light empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring light and life to those in need. 

The first time the word candlestick is used in the bible is in the book of Exodus as furnishings are being made for the tabernacle. “And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.” (Exodus 25:31) This candlestick would be placed in the holy place opposite the table of shewbread, a room without windows, a room dark with it’s only light being the candlestick. The light dispels darkness enabling one to walk through the darkness and to work even though the darkness is present. Jesus Christ is the fountain of all true light therefore, our life and our ministries must be filled with the light of Jesus Christ which is the word of God. The promise is: “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41) This is the blessing of light to those in need. 

How many religious movements have boldly declared: “We follow the example of the New Testament Church.” But did they follow this example? “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35) Or this: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”  (Matthew 25:35-36) 

I say to you the ministry of VOC is a light of hope and encouragement to those who are being persecuted around the world. And this is a ministry that must be supported. They are functioning as a ministry unto the LORD by serving believers in need, supporting them to trust God and follow HIS ways. Because they are willing to wash the feet of those who are in need their heart of humble service is a testimony of faith and grace to those who persecute believers. The following is an account given by a pastor supported by VOC.

By the grace of God Almighty a Pashtun man (The Pashtuns are an Iranian ethnic group who are native to Central and South Asia) whose name must be protected came to Pastor John as he had heard that this pastor prayed for people with different ailments. Pastor John prayed for this Pashtun man and his brother.  The brother then began to ask questions about the Bible. The gospel was shared with him, and his questions were answered. He then began to tell us that he had worked for ten years in a Tablighi Jamaat (a group of Muslims who spend their lives traveling from one place to another inviting people to Islam and those who are Muslims to be more religious in their duties.) and no one had ever told him of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His eyes were opened and he gave his life to Jesus . We baptized the brother and he now spends his time evangelizing among Pashtun Muslims and calling them to Christ. All glory to God.

VOC is worthy of support as they are constantly reaching out to the persecuted and to the underground church in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, as well as other places around the globe. VOC is a light that gives hope, encouragement and support in a dark place. Do we have this mission? Do we have this passion? The words of the beloved Christ in Matthew’s gospel encourage everyone who makes the faith choice to serve others in need.

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  (Matthew 25:37-40) 

The modern day church must receive instruction from the Word of God. The church of today must serve in harmony with the activity of God in the world. Daily we take up the cross, daily we seek to cooperate with HIS ACTIVITY. In Revelation chapter one, the risen, glorified Christ is seen walking in the midst of the seven churches.  The churches are identified as candlesticks or as lampstands.  These candlesticks or lampstands were used to light the way with oil.  The symbolism of the lampstands which represent the churches light the way through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  The church is to be the pillar and ground of truth.  The church which is composed of individual believers is to reflect the light of truth to those turned away in darkness. 

For example, the church of Ephesus portrays the early church led by the apostles from approximately 60-90 A.D.  As the first century came to a close the early Christian church began to lose some of their passion and love. If the apostle John were to write a letter to our church today, what would he say?  Would there be things in our church that he would give praise and thanksgiving about? Would there be things that John would say that we are doing very well?  Are there things that he would need to confront us about?  What do you think? 

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5) 

The Lord Jesus Christ announces to the church at Ephesus that HE is walking in the midst of each of these 7 churches observing all that is going on in them.  He is in control, and HE is aware of all that is good and worthy of praise and all that is not. Beloved friend, knowing that Jesus Christ is fully aware of all the activity of the modern church as well, what should be our response to this knowledge? Should we not spend time in prayer and personal reflection of the word of God?

The church at Ephesus was commended for good doctrine. 

“I know, …how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:…” (Revelation 2:2)  “evil” – these are not saved people who struggle with sin.  These are those who purpose to do evil. These are false apostles. There is a record of the apostle Paul speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus in the book of Acts and he gave this warning. 

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31) 

These believers obeyed Paul’s warning and protected their church from false apostles.  How do we do this today? The church is to be the pillar and ground of truth. Not only is this a working church filled with faith and is doctrinally sound, they also are very stedfast, “…hast not fainted.”

In verse 6, they hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which God says, HE also hates.  There is much controversy on the Nicolaitan sect, but many believe it was a group that promoted Christian liberty to the point of embracing worldliness and deeds of impurity. Do we see this as a problem today? Another problem we face today is through busyness, unbelief, selfishness, or pride, we choose to leave our first love. This is the first step in losing the blessing of the LORD upon our lives and ministry.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5) 

The church is to be the salt and light of the world.  If Christ were to remove the candlestick from the church that would indicate that there would no longer be a testimony for Christ.  The testimony of a church is based upon the fact that the power of Christ is resident in the ministry of that church or ministry. No candlestick, means no testimony, no power, no person of Jesus Christ dwelling in its’ presence. Therefore, this church and every church must follow this instruction of Jesus Christ.  They left their first love, therefore, Jesus instructs them to repent and do the first works. For example, what was our faith like when we first put our trust in Jesus Christ? Has our love deepened, or has it weakened?

This church is still active.  They have sacrificial works which require joyful endurance.  They are still doctrinally pure.  But they have left their first love and Jesus sees this as a significant threat to their future ministry. The issue is their love relationship with the Savior.  Every believer from every age must maintain a proper view of God.  We must remember who HE is, what HE has done, what HE is presently doing in our life and ministry, and what HE shall do for us in the future.

Is it possible to serve the Lord out of a sense of duty, for the praise of men, for prestige and not out of a sense of love and devotion? Oh beloved friend, we know this is a very sad possibility. We must guard our hearts. We must pray and seek the LORD. The motive for our service to Christ is to be born out of our love and worship of Christ.  Jesus, instruction is very simple:

First of all, we must REMEMBER:

  1. The gratefulness that was born from the revelation of forgiveness.
  2. The joy that filled our hearts as we obeyed God.
  3. The excitement of the Lord’s return and our desires for heaven.
  4. The desire to see others know Christ as Savior.
  5. The hunger to know the Word of God.
  6. The holy presence of personal worship with the Lord.
  7. The thrill of being used by the Spirit of God to minister to someone.

 

Remember the first works; the first days and months of our salvation and all the new things that we experienced as a believer in Christ. What do you remember of those first days with Christ?

The Lord Jesus realizes that there will be sincere seekers within the congregation that will remember and that will repent, therefore, HE says in verse 7:

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) 

These are the characteristics of the overcomer.  The believer who is seeking to have the will of the Father done in his own personal life as the will of the Father is being done in heaven. To this one Jesus promises that he or she will have the privilege of eating of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. When Adam and Eve fell, they lost access to the paradise of God and the tree of life.  The believer, the overcomer, will one day be with the Lord in the paradise of God to partake of the 12 manner of fruits.

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2) 

The tragedy of our day is that we have so many saved souls who have a lost life. They have a lost life because they have left their first love. Therefore, REMEMBER AND REPENT. I fear there are many believers and many churches who have lost their candlestick of testimony. They have works, but they have no power or blessing from the LORD. Beloved friend, we must remember and repent and follow the teachings of our beloved Savior if we are to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

(The identities of the Christian Pastor, whose name is not John, and the Pashtun man must be hidden for their protection in a world of persecution)

The Mission of VOC is to become a lifeline for persecuted Christians by providing them Rescue and Refuge while Replenishing their mind, body, and soul in order to help them grow their Christian faith.  Donate To VOC