Persecution is good for the church. Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, “These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. ï»¿I know your afflictions and your povertyâ€”yet you are rich!” (Revelation 2:8-9). The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Persecution causes the church to grow stronger. Look at China. When Mao came to power in 1949 there were a few million believers in China. Now there are probably 100 million. I’ve personally witnessed on various occassions how that Christ grows His church during hard times and under difficult conditions.
I noticed similar pressures in Venezuela. The Chavez government is trying to control the churches and politicize them as part of the government’s progoganda machine. Those who oppose the government’s policies are carefully watched and subtle forms of persecution already exist (e.g., lack of job promotions, etc.).
A few days ago I talked to a pastor’s kid from Venezuela who told me that he felt like God was purging and pruning Venezuela, so that the people would wake up from their slumber. I bore witness to what he was saying. God loves us so much, in fact, that He’ll do whatever it takes to make us more like Him.
I was very grieved by the political pressures and problems in Venezuela and felt so sad for the people who find themselves trapped in a very difficult situation. Yet the third day in Venezuela while having my devotions, God showed me His sovereignty through the book of Daniel and the book of Revelations. He’s in control of nations, governments, and all people. He sets up one and disposes another. We can trust in our powerful, loving God. And so can the people in Veneuzuela. The gates of hell won’t prevail against Christ’s church, and I could testify that Christ’s church is alive and well in Venezuela.
Let’s remember that God is His soverignty uses hard times to mold and shape us.