I heard an inspiring story during one of my trips to India. But before I share the story, a little background. Northeast India for many decades had been known as the missionaries’ graveyard. Primarily because nearly every missionary who had moved there and attempted to establish a mission station was faced with unbelievable rejection and failure. The region has been a demonic stronghold for centuries. It was rare that any missionary team would last over one year. It is reported that many got sick and some even died. But most left defeated by an unbelievable hardness of the people’s heart toward the gospel.
Even though the region was considered closed to the gospel, somehow there was one family who became a follower of Jesus. The story is told of a man who lived in a small village in this region of India. We are not sure how he heard the gospel but he was a passionate follower of Jesus. His conversion and commitment to Christ plus his zeal for the gospel had so irritated the villagers that a mob formed. They rushed this man’s house and shoved him and his family to the public square. The village chief questioned him about his faith and gave him and his family a chance to recant. The man didn’t know what to do. So he began to sing a song that some believe he had composed.
” I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”
With that his children were horrifically killed as he and his wife watched in horror. He was given another chance to recant and save his wife. Again, not knowing what to do, he sang another verse.
“Though none go with me still I will follow, though none go with me still I will follow, though none go with me still I will follow, no turning back, no turning back.”
He watched as they brutally murdered his wife. Then he was given one more chance to recant. He continued to sing.
“The cross before me the world behind me, the cross before me the world behind me, the cross before me the cross behind me, no turning back, no turning back.”
Even though that man and his family were killed that day, something remarkable happened. A seed was planted in the heart of the chief. It was a seed that began to grow over time. Then one day he gathered the villagers in that very same square and renounced his previous faith and he declared his allegiance to Jesus Christ. A celebration began to break out and the gospel spread not only through out that village but through the whole region. It spread because they had seen true faith and had seen the real character of God.
I believe this is one of the events that God used to open up this region of India. In the last couple of decades hundreds of thousands Indians have come to Christ. I have personally witnessed this incredible move of God.
There are several lessons we can learn from this inspiring story.
1. When you make a decision to follow Jesus you will be called on to “draw a line in the sand”. We may not be called on to give our life in martyrdom like this family but we will be faced with a decision(s) that will set us apart from the world. Will I chose to follow Jesus absolutely or will I compromise just to keep my personal dream alive?
The world is not for us. The scripture tells us that we are ‘strangers and pilgrims’ in this world. In other words, we are not familiar with the territory (way of life), and we are pilgrims, just passing through on the way home (heaven).
2. God can take any tragedy, disappointment and turn it into an incredible victory. The principle of Romans 8:28 (“all things work together for our good”) is that God takes all of the successes, failures, unfairness, sacrifices and tragedies and is able to blend them all together to accomplish His will for your life.
For every tragedy and failure God has already gone ahead of his children to begin a process of turning our greatest hurt and disappointment into an incredible work of God.
3. Make sure you have absolutes in your life. We live in a “relative world” where the culture dictates what is right and wrong. As a committed follower of Jesus our life is dictated by absolutes. The old saying is true, “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” Absolutes encourages us to be firmly planted on the absolute faithfulness of God.