Your money, your van, or your faith?
A recent article in the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, on the persecution of Christians in Indonesia, tells the story of pastor Abraham Bentar, a former Muslim who is now a Christian evangelist among his people. The VOM interview with him was conducted the day after he was released early from a four-and-a-half year prison sentence for preaching Christ. He had been imprisoned for two years. He describes how he came to be incarcerated:
"A mob dragged me in front of a mosque. They knocked my tooth out with a bottle. Once I had been a Muslim fundamentalist, so the mob was especially angry... Before they smashed my van, they asked me, 'What is more important, your money, your van, or your faith?' I told them, 'I would rather serve Jesus than have my van or my money.'"
Abraham's wife and teenage daughter had to watch news footage on television of the riot and of Abraham's arrest. His daughter's friends at school told her that her father was a preacher for an evil cult.
After he was arrested, while Abraham awaited in jail for his trial, two local Christian pastors visited him. Rather than offering comfort or help, one of them asked, "Why do you cause more problems for us? Why did you become a Christian?" The other said, "This is my area, not yours. We have a Christian community here but you come here, and you share the gospel!" (Apparently most pastors in the area do not witness to Muslim's for fear of retaliation or persecution).
During his trial a Muslim leader told Abraham that if he returned to Islam then he would be released from prison. Because he would not repent of his Christian faith, Abraham was placed in a prison with the mentally ill. There he started worship services for the other prisoners!
VOM appropriately themed their issue "Spectacular Christians," referring to Paul's contention in 1 Corinthians 4:9 that "we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men."
In America, we tend to hunger for fame and for attention. People will endure all sorts of humiliation and embarrasment in order to have a their five minutes of fame on a talk show program, or reality show, or news broadcast.
But who is willing to be made a spectacle for Christ? Are we willing to stand for Christ, to stand out from the world, in order to bring glory and honor to our Savior? Abraham Bentar suffered physical abuse, financial loss, family attacks, imprisonment, and even the ridicule of other Christians.
In answer to the question, "Your money, your van, or your faith?" Abraham replied, "I would rather serve Jesus..."
Are you willing to make such a choice? Are you willing to put Christ before your wallet, career, social status, and even family? If so then you will become, especially in our luxury-laden society, a truly spectacular Christian.