Do you know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (Go for Gold). Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training (sacrifice & commitment). They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like man aimlessly; … I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
There is a sign that reads, Champions and Heros wanted. Wimps need not apply. When I was a kid my hero was the lone ranger. He was dressed in grey with a white hat and a horse. His sidekick was Tonto. “Look like trouble Kemosabe. Well Tonto, I was born for trouble.” His calling card was the silver bullet. He was the good guy.
Do the names Clara Hughes, Percy Williams, George Hodgson or Percy Williams mean anything to you? What about the names Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean? They are the best of the best that Canada has to offer, the cream of our Olympic Crop. The finest athletes in the world in their events. What about you? Have you ever been a contender? Have you ever been a winner, a champion, a star athlete, a musician, student? The very best in the arena you competed in? Canadians are seen as nice people. Most of us are content to just watch the events, much less have to sacrifice through blood, sweat and tears for the prize. The 2018 Winter Olympics was incredible. A total of 2,914 of the world’s greatest athletes from 92 countries competed in 102 events in 7 sports to find who will gain the Gold. These 2,914 athletes represent the finest men and women from around the world – those who have sacrificed and denied pleasure, comfort, convenience, relationships, home and family to undergo discipline, endurance training and major physical stress to be the best. Some have broken bones and torn ligaments, and moved to other countries to be near their coaches and near the best competition. Total denial of everything we consider to be “The Good Life”, in order to Go For the Gold. Canada won 28 medals and in 11 events captured the crown and gained the gold. Canada maintained its record for the most gold medals at a single Games—14 at Vancouver 2010—and now shares the honor with Norway and Germany, which equaled that mark at these Games.
Let me ask you, are you in the race? Have you qualified? Have you made the cut? Are you willing to sacrifice, stay focused, stay committed and go all out in Going for Gold?
In the spring of 2018 two of our workers, (unnamed for their own protection) were arrested and jailed for proselytizing and converting a Hindu. Some of our other pastors in the Banke district of Nepal have also been arrested. Despite Nepal being the birthplace of Buddhism only 16% of all the people worship Buddha while 75% of the population are Hindu. The persecution reached its height in 1990 as over 200,000 Christian believers suffered for their faith. Our national director writes,
” I suffered a great deal in those dark days. I was a church leader and was arrested, interrogated and put in a dark cell for hours at a time with no food or water. I suffered great mental abuse and pain. Finally I was brought before a judge. I gave my testimony of faith in Jesus Christ and instea of being imprisoned, I was released,”
Despite these many setbacks and persecution. Our friends in Nepal are pushing on towards the prize.
We are seeing Christianity gaining ground like never before. Although the government is still extremely secular and imposing the popular SOGI agenda in their schools. We have seen 69, 326 ministrations of the word of God, 4,676 new church members get baptized, 132 new church plants and 12,078 professions of faith. Our Cuban brothers and sisters are pushing on, they have endured years of communism and found a way to get the word of God out despite their government’s opposition and restriction.
We have recently received reports of large groups of Santeria opposition to our Eastern Baptist Churches near Havana. A few trips ago they heard we were meeting with the pastor’s family in their home and they started casting curses and conjuring demons to attempt to disrupt us but we raised our voice in worship at the victory that Jesus already won on the cross. After 15 minutes of worship, the drums stopped and the music went silent. Our pastor turned to us and said, “Either they receive Christ, or they leave, they cannot face the presence of God as they are.”
Manuel and his family have targeted the Santeria community and pushed on to win the prize that God has set for all of us to rejoice over with heaven … souls.
In Thailand, Burma & Myanmar:
Despite having one of the most repressive governments in the world, our workers in Burma have begun to see great advancement in spreading the gospel.
- Thousands of Buddhist monks, nuns and novices are being witnessed in monasteries and have invited some of our workers to share the Gospel with them. Their hunger for the written word is voracious.
- There are 44 prisons in Burma holding over 500,000 prisoners. The most infamous of these is Insein Prison which has a population of 10,000. Torture, brutality and disease have been so prevalent in Insein that it has been ranked among the worst prisons in the world for decades. But no longer! And, the first nationwide prison ministry that was recently launched is witnessing incredible fruitfulness as hundreds of pastors and evangelists are now being allowed to minister to the spiritual needs of the men, women and youth who inhabit these situations.
These workers are pressing on toward the goal, pushing past the notorious reputation of this prison. Forgoing comfort and safety to strive toward the prize … souls.
How about you? What area of influence do you find yourself in? Are you a teacher, molding the hearts and minds of our future generations? Or maybe you are a bus driver, carrying the hearts of our communities to and from school? Perhaps you are a construction worker, laying the foundation of someone’s dreams? Or even a nurse, caring for the sick and elderly? Wherever you have found yourself in work and in life, you have the power of influence in your arena. You can strive towards the goal marked out for you and move forward toward the prize. It’s a lot easier than you could ever imagine. It starts with intentionality … and a smile.