America, Where Are You Going?
America has experienced levels of prosperity unlike any nation on earth. And yet...
Although it was a number of years ago, the memory of the divine appointment is still with me. I had told myself that Vietnam was one place I would never go back to. Yet here I was in Saigon years later. The communists want you to call it Ho Chi Minh City, so I always call it Saigon.
We had been out “shopping,” watching to be sure the secret police were no longer following us. We thought we were meeting with a businessman who was involved in the home-church movement. We went to his factory and even though he was not there, we were led to what was literally an “upper room:” When we went into this room, there were about 50 or so home-church leaders who were sitting on the floor. We learned later they had already been there for hours before we arrived. A pastor, who had come down from the mountains to this city to teach these new leaders, was writing Scripture on a marker board. All those assembled were writing down everything he was saying (we all do that every Sunday when our pastor preaches, right?).
While they looked up when we first came in and smiled, they continued hanging on every word the teacher was sharing. After what seemed like several hours, he said something to the assembled and they began putting their Bibles and notebooks down. He looked at us and in perfect English said, “Let us pray!”
When these believers began to pray, I felt Heaven come down into that room. Having been a Christian and in ministry for a number of years, I experienced something in that group of persecuted Believers that I had never experienced before.
I had attended retreats, advances, prayer meetings and revival services, yet that day I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in that room in a way I had never experienced. These persecuted believers were praying with intensity I had never seen or heard before.
After several hours of prayer, the leader looked at my friend and me and said, “Brothers do you have a word for us?"My first thought was, "What could we possibly say to them?” They were meeting together at the risk of their freedom, and possibly even their lives, if they were caught by the authorities. We lived in America where the worst persecution we face is somebody calling us a name! But my friend began sharing a very simple word to this group of Believers.
He said that the Church of Jesus Christ faces three tests. The first test is the test of persecution. He said to the group that the Church of Jesus Christ historically has always overcome the test of persecution. He said the second test is poverty. Historically, he said, the Church of Jesus Christ has always overcome the test of poverty. The last test the Church of Jesus Christ faces is the test of prosperity. Then he said, historically, the church of Jesus Christ has never overcome the test of prosperity.
America has experienced levels of prosperity unlike any nation on earth. Yet we have a generation that feels as if they have been ripped off and are not experiencing the standard of living their parents experienced.
My question to the “church” in America: Where are you? As part of that church, if I’m not part of the solution, I’m just part of the problem. We need to do a better job of representing Jesus to this generation.
Something to think about?