Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The past ten days saw me in Alaska, where the mountains are tall and the wilderness vast. The weather turned out to be amazing, with only an hour of rain the whole trip. This in the rain capital of the US. I biked in Ketchican, kayaked in a glacial inlet, and hiked through a spruce forest. When I wasn't out in nature, I was reading, and I spent the the first half of my trip on the book Secret Believers by Brother Andrew.
Brother Andrew, if you're not familiar with the name, is a man who has dedicated his life to serving the Lord through strengthening the Church where it is most persecuted. During the era of communist Europe in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Brother Andrew smuggled carfulls of Bibles, commentaries, and other resources to the underground Church, providing the living water of the Word to the Believers in those countries where it was illegal to own the Bible. The story is incredible, and worth reading on its own. (you can find that part of his journey chronicled through the book "God's Smugglers". I highly recommend it).
Well to make a long story short, Brother Andrew felt the Lord calling him the shift his area of ministry to the Islamic world, strengthening the Church in Islamic countries. That's where this book comes in. Secret Believers paints a picture of what life is like for Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) in Islamic states. It chronicles the faith, persecution, and hope of a handful of fictional characters (based on real people, they just can't write the actual names or else these Believers would be found out).
So as the Alaskan scenery passed by, I sat and read this book. It was more of an experience, if I am to be honest. With each page, I felt my heart being softened, and I felt the Holy Spirit sweeping afresh through my soul. At the end of the book, I felt that I had not finished the book, but that the book had finished me.
The call of Brother Andrew throughout the book is that the West must wake up and be serious about taking the Gospel to Muslims. We must get on our knees and pray for the strength to love where force and weapons seem like a better option, and we must continually practice forgiveness.
There's a lot of hoopla about Islam, the West, and terrorism these days. It's one of the bigger fears for many Americans. But Brother Andrew here is calling for a Gospel offensive, characterized by love, compassion, and forgiveness, not a hunkering, defensive posture that too many of our Churches have taken. Truly the power of Christ is at work all across the world even in this moment, and many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering for their choice to follow Jesus.
This book won't make the bestseller list, and won't win literary awards, but it is a story that absolutely must be told for our generation.