“The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?”
In reading this passage this morning, I was struck by the similarity of the treatment of Jesus under the religious leaders to what is happening all around the world today. The religious authorities’ treatment of Jesus is being repeated in surprising detail this very moment.
Since starting Barnabas1040 ministries I have had the privilege of meeting men and women across China, Vietnam, Laos and other Asian countries who told me of experiences which sounded eerily like the one our Lord endured in Jerusalem the night of His betrayal.
It should be no surprise to us that these things and worse are happening all around the world today. This is exactly what Jesus told us to expect.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” Matthew 10:16-18, 24
We in America have become so accustomed to the great freedoms afforded to us by our founding fathers that we sometimes forget that most of the world knows nothing of religious freedom. The reality is that the majority of our brothers and sisters in Christ have never known the freedoms that we take for granted. They were born in countries that do not consider individual liberty as a basic human right, and they were born again while living under political systems that deny basic human rights.
Even now many Christians are languishing in prison cells separated from family and friends, not knowing if they will ever be reunited with those they love. In many cases their families do not even know if they are alive.
Paul Marshall in the book, “Their Blood Cries Out” claims that 80 percent of the world’s believers are living in persecution.
As I thought about what happened to Jesus, and those I have met whose stories are mirrored in his, I realized that they not only identify in effect but in cause. The reason Jesus stood before the religious police was because he “spoke openly…to the world.”
My friends were not called to the police station because they were “believers” but because they were “followers.” They took seriously their Lord’s instructions to speak and teach those things that they had learned from God’s Word. They “spoke openly” and as a result they found themselves in conflict with an authoritarian system.
None of these men or women were seeking persecution, but neither did they shrink from it. They are not bitter, nor do they have self pity. They are humble servants of Christ who are simply trying to live their lives as his followers. Some are pastors, most are not, but all of them are focused on eternity. They believe that this life is only preparation for the next and their chief desire is to glorify God. They are not perfect. They struggle with all the temptations that are common to our race but somehow they have caught a glimpse of the world to come. They are living with eternity in view.
It is my great privilege to attempt to be a friend and helper to those who are walking with Jesus in hard places.
And a special occasion because we just added several new national pastors to our growing family serving through Barnabas1040! There are four communist countries in South East Asia and by God’s grace we are now working in 3 of them!
One year ago my wife and I faced our fears and stepped out in faith to follow what we firmly believed was God’s calling for this season of our lives. We could no longer be content to stay home and curse the darkness, we were compelled to go out and shine the light!
Now, one year later, I am writing these words from the 16th floor of a modest Chinese hotel in one of the largest cities in the world. I am looking out across a city of 20 million people, amazed that God would allow me the great honor of helping my brothers and sisters who are attempting to reach their own people for Christ.
On the one year anniversary of that resignation letter I would like to share just three of the many things the Lord has shown us.
1. God can be trusted completely.
One year ago today, I did not know how God would use us or provide for us. I knew that He was leading, and that for over 40 years of ministry He had been faithful. The past year has proven, once again, that He can be trusted. As Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
2. There are many churches and Christians in America that are serious about the Great Commission.
We have been received with open arms by pastors across our great land that want to help reach those who live and die in hard areas where persecution for Christ’s sake is a daily reality. There are many people in the world who consider Americans to be selfish, materialistic and apathetic to the needs of the rest of the world. There is no question that this is sometimes a problem, but it is by no means a universal truth. American Christians are still some of the most sincere, generous and caring people in the world. We have met thousands of them in the past year.
3. Barnabas1040 is greatly needed.
When we started Barnabas1040 we had a vision of helping our brothers and sisters reach their own people for Christ. We knew intellectually that it makes sense that a native could be more effective, especially in a difficult part of the world like the 10/40 Window where missionaries are often not welcome. It just made sense that someone who already speaks the language, understands the culture and can blend in without drawing attention to himself would have a better chance at reaching people. We knew it intellectually, but now we have seen it with our own eyes.
Just last week, I was in a mountain village in a restricted access nation, and within minutes the house was surrounded by police wanting to know what the American was doing there. I was not allowed to speak and my hosts ushered me out of the village as soon as it was safe. That experience was one of many confirmations that we are on the right track by sending nationals into sensitive areas where foreigners cannot minister.
There are of course many other lessons the Lord has been teaching us on this journey of faith, but they will have to wait for another day.
We will be back in the USA from September through March and have 2 Sundays open in February if any pastors would like to have us in. Please contact me by email.
God bless you!
Dr. Dwight Tomlinson
Last Sunday night I led our church in voting in a new pastor. Our people happily voted by a 99% margin to replace me after 25 years! The next morning my wife asked me how I felt. My reply? I feel great!
You might read into my reply that I am excited about retirement. Actually, you would be mistaken, because I don’t believe in retirement. I am not excited because I have retired and am looking forward to a stress free life of daily golf. (Those who know me well know that there are few things more stressful to me than trying to hit a golf ball.) I am feeling great because we are following God’s plan for our life in beginning a new ministry that we believe will be every bit as busy and productive as the one we are leaving.
After 40 years of pastoral work, we are dedicating the rest of our lives to planting churches in the 1040 window which contains the world’s least evangelized countries. We have the privilege of reaching people who have literally never heard the name of Jesus.
I don’t believe in retirement if it means we stop devoting our full energy to spreading the gospel among those who have the least access, therefore the greatest need.
If you want to know why I don’t believe in retirement I will show you a verse and a photo.
First a verse: Isaiah got a vision of the Holiness of God that changed his life. His response was to volunteer to serve. He received a command to go and tell people of the greatness of God. He asked the question “how long?“. (When do I retire?)
Here is the answer and the reason I don’t believe in retirement.
“Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate” Isa. 6:11.
I will believe in retirement for a Christian when the whole world has heard the good news of Jesus. Until then, I plan to keep on doing everything I can to reach people with the gospel.
Now the photo: This is San and Yom. This week they will be enabled to go full time in the gospel ministry reaching their own people in the 1040 window supported by Barnabas1040.com.
They are former muslims who have endured much persecution for Christ. They are now working full time to reach the muslim villages surrounding the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
As long as there are people like San and Yom willing to plant churches among their own people with our help, I won’t believe in retirement.