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January 07, 2014

Choose this Day: Shrink Back or Press On?

By Joan Hutter

We make choices every day. How many choices threaten our lives?

Across the globe men and women say yes to frontline battle in the name of Jesus Christ; they live with abandon to take the beachhead for the Lord, no matter the cost. Many face death if they confess Christ as Lord. They have a choice and it’s serious.

In the Philippines, on a recent retreat day for a ministry reaching Muslims, missionaries again had to choose. Already they had put their lives on the line as church planters in unreached regions. But lately, violence filled the land, with more than 200 lives lost, 100,000 residents displaced, and 10,000 homes destroyed, many reduced to rubble. A once vibrant economy groped for recovery.

Finally, the three-week battle subsided. Yet extremist conflicts erupted sporadically, and the native missionary teams serving seven unreached Muslim people groups on this southern Filipino island were caught in the crossfire.

What would they do? If they continued, they might die. Would they play it safe?

At the height of the standoff the evangelistic teams of Reaching Muslim Tribes for Isa congregated to debrief and re-evaluate. The director issued a startling challenge to the workers gathered that Saturday morning.

“How then shall we respond to all these pressing realities around us?” she said as she closed the morning message. “Shall we step backwards in fear or shall we move forward in love to reach out to these precious peoples?”

As she dismissed the workers at 11 a.m. to proceed to their private time with the Lord, she left them with this: “If you are fearful and doubtful and no longer willing to come back to the field, please be honest and tell me. You need not come back to this room. Do not worry what others will say. Do not be ashamed, if you think this is the best decision for you. I will readily accept and respect your decision and send you home with my blessing.”

She added with emphasis: “If you commit to go back and serve the Lord among the unreached despite the dangers and given realities, you may come back to this room at 2 o’clock today. This would mean you are ready to serve the Lord at any cost.”

The workers departed for three hours of intense waiting upon the Lord. At 2 o'clock that afternoon, one by one, each and every worker came back with tears in their eyes. They chose to press on rather than return to lives of safety.

With joined hands all who gathered in that room recommitted themselves to the Lord and to fulfilling the vision of turning the harvest field into a harvest force.

Choose this day whom you will serve. Joshua 24:15

Can you imagine? We issue this devotion to our children, “Choose this day!” They face their friends at school. Who will they please? Who will they follow? These are the questions our young ones face.

They need to know what the choice costs in the southern Philippines. In Kazakhstan, Vietnam, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

Persecution looks different here at home. We need to press on—not shrink back—taking a beachhead in prayer with groanings too deep for words. Choose this day to allow the spirit of prayer to strengthen those walking into the crossfire.

The fire of the cross of Christ shall burn in our hearts for His work across the nations.

You also must help us by your prayers … 2 Corinthians 1:11

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