Today marks the 70th anniversary of a “day that will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This became the impetus for our nation to be forced to join into what became known as WWII.
I praise our Lord for the men and women who sacrificed their lives that we may enjoy the freedoms in this nation that we possess today. Interestingly, I’m teaching later today at our Iron Men meeting about the role of the Christian in being submissive and under subjection to government authorities (1 Peter 2:13, Romans 13:1-7).
As I think of the sacrifices that were made on behalf of our nation, my mind is drawn back to Ethiopia and the huge sacrifices being made for Jesus Christ. I would like to share a couple of these with you in this post.
First, I want to tell you about a group of people who are building a church in a little community called Zobachame. The members of this little church are building a church with their own hands…
The members of the church work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings to build the church. Men, women, boys and girls… Everyone is helping! Amazing!
It truly was an awe-inspiring sight to see all the people working so hard. They have made tremendous progress.
Doesn’t it look good? The thinking is that it will be complete in the next 3 months. Here’s the church sitting and listening to Jason Hatley, one of our team members from Roxboro, NC and Bethel Hill Baptist Church.
What a joy! And what a sacrifice! How many of us would use our own hands, sweat and blood to build our church? I ask myself the same question. Just how much sacrifice am I willing to make for my Lord? It’s the season of giving, right? It’s Christmas…so, we give. But, I’m afraid we’re just giving to ourselves. The average American family will spend about $1,000 at Christmas (according to ask.com). Wow! What if we took half of that money and used it for the kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of “me?” Ouch!
In a couple of weeks the kids will open up all those presents and then play with the boxes. Sad, but true. We’ll have to find space in our attics, closets and basements to store the old toys from last year that they don’t play with anymore. Americans are “storage” kings and queens.
Didn’t Jesus say that we should store up our treasures in heaven where moths and rust don’t destroy? I believe He did.
Here’s another man in Ethiopia who is making a real sacrifice. I shared about this gentleman at church on Sunday. His name is Kadir.
Kadir lives in a community called Bedene. It’s out in the “boonies,” as we might say. It’s 99% Muslim. The church in Bedene as been destroyed several times. Finally, Kadir said, “Let’s build the church on my property and I’ll protect it.” They did. And Kadir as paid a high price for his commitment to the church. He has been threatened, beaten and almost killed. Yet, there is a peace in his heart and life because he says,
“I’m not afraid of man. My life is in God’s hands. What can man do to me? Nothing. God controls my life.”
What more can be added to those words of surrender, self-abandonment and sacrifice? None! I can add nothing to Kadir’s words…only that I may find myself as faithful as he is to Jesus. Standing beside of Kadir and having him thank me for coming and sharing with him was so humbling. I said, “No, I must thank you for being willing to go to bed each night not knowing if someone would break in and kill you for being a Christian.” Tremendous sacrifice. Real sacrifice indeed.
I lament my own life of ease and comfortableness. I’m back home in my house of luxury. Running water, toilets to sit on (versus squat in Ethiopia over a hole in the ground), TVs, phones, computers, WiFi, easy access to any food I want at any time, pillow top mattresses, cars, heat and air on demand. And yet most Americans are on anti-depressants in the midst of all of our stuff. We are drowning in our material possessions and we’re never satisfied.
I was reminded in Ethiopia that sometimes I call “Utopia,” that I’m living a life that is so hurried and run by a clock and day planner that I seldom stop to smell the roses. How about you? With me?
Ethiopia has many, many problems. Some are much worse than in America. but, the Ethiopian Christians seem to have figured out contentment. This is where they live…
Yep…that’s it. Most live in huts with a dirt floor and have about 15 x 20 feet inside that hut that they do their living, eating, sleeping and dying. But, they are happy in Christ. We would look at them and say, “Oh, how sad…how poor they are.” No…they are not poor. We are! Yes…we are! We have “it all” in America, yet without Christ…we have nothing. We are poor, naked and blind in our wealth and opulence.
God help me to really look at my life to see what real sacrifice is all about. What does it mean to be a Christian? Where should my priorities be? I think I know…
The Kingdom of God…
That’s it! Just His Kingdom and for His glory! Blessed be the name of the Lord…Yahweh…Jehovah, God!
Thank you for your incredible sacrifice to come be one of the created, as our Creator. Thank you for being willing to be one of us, “God with us,” so that we might be with you. Praise your Name! The name above every name that every knee will bow and every tongue will one day confess…
Jesus Christ is Lord!