Making disciples of all the nations

Posted: April 26, 2012 in Christian Living, World Events
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So many believers here in the United States have become so apathetic towards spiritual matters that it is sometime hard to differentiate between believers and non-believers. And to make matters worse, many Christians are aggressively divided  on matters of doctrines that have nothing to do with salvation. This should not be!

Below is a follow-up email from my friend in Russia. His words should serve as an example for all of us in the states to use every opportunity God gives us to share the Gospel.

I think of you all every day and pray that God will give each of you boldness to share the love of Jesus with others. Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:18-19, “Go into the world and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is the very last thing Jesus said to his followers. It is the great commission. It is not the great suggestion. We must pray that God will use us to reach our neighbors. We live in a world of REAL spiritual darkness. I relay the following story to not only show you this darkness, but to encourage you in knowing that God is in control of everything and will lead us in and out of every situation. I did not previously share the experiences of this particular day, primarily because I did not want my parents and family to worry. Now, however, as I as I am preparing to again return to the states it is time to let you know more of the spiritually struggle that is going on here in Russia.

Not every witnessing encounter has an outcome that you would hope. We make our best plans and pray that God will use our efforts and the power of scriptures by His Holy Spirit to win souls to Jesus. Sometimes, despite our best preparations for these trips, God takes things in entirely different and unexpected directions. We were in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia on our second witnessing trip in two weeks. The first trip was fruitful and we saw four people come to the Lord in one day. So we naturally wanted to return. This trip, however, was not only different; it unfolded as a nightmare that had some of us concerned about serious jail time and deportation.

When we arrived, we were met by our friend, Bill Parson, who would spend half the day with us before heading in to work. We began walking the busy pedestrian area south of the Riviera Hotel complex. This area was being renovated, but despite the construction was quite busy. We had shared the gospel with about eight people when we encountered Roman. He was a man who seemed pleasant enough, but after speaking with him for about ten minutes, he suddenly changed. His expression became so filled with hatred and rage that we decided to wish him a good day and to leave him alone. Roman, however, followed us for an hour at a distance, shouting curses and insults in the Tatar language. We decided to call it a day and try again the next day.

As we began to walk to our hotel, Roman attacked Alex, screaming and violently wrestling him to the ground. At first we didn’t understand what Roman was screaming and to be honest, we were a little stunned and confused concerning what to what to do. After a split second, we all joined in to pull Roman off Alex. It took all four of us to get him under control. Alex told us that Roman had been screaming the words “You can’t have him” in the Chuvash language. As quickly as he had become violent, Roman’s anger subsided. He was calm, but upset that four men were sitting on him on the sidewalk.

At that time, two policemen who had heard the commotion arrived and separated everyone. It was then that Roman claimed very calmly that we had attacked him!! As we all sat in the back of police cars, we wondered what we would do. Charges against us would certainly result in deportation for Bill and me and some sort of jail time for Saha and Alex. We were praying with every fiber of our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits. No witnesses would come forward to refute Roman’s claim. No one wanted to get involved.

We were all taken several blocks to the local precinct where Roman repeated his claim that we had attacked him. The police questioned each of us and we all said the same thing; that we were simply trying to share the gospel of Christ with Roman when he suddenly seemed to “snap”, and violently attacked Alex. We were there for several hours, answering questions as to why we would be talking to people on the street in the first place. We explained, as best we could, why we share the love of Jesus with others. We each explained what the gospel message was, pointed to our Bibles and quoted to the officers the scriptures that urge us to be witnesses for Jesus. We again and again explained why we feel compelled to tell others about the good news of Jesus but to our dismay, these policemen were a cold group. Mostly expressionless and callous, they offered virtually no response. I heard one officer shouting angrily at Alex in the next room. I began to wonder if we would all go to jail.

At that time, we were all put together into one room. Roman was brought into the room, and we were again asked to confess to attacking Roman and to explain why. Alex again said that we only wanted to tell Roman how much God loved him. Instantly, Roman, screamed, jumped to his feet, and flying across the table, lunged toward Alex. Four startled policemen were struggling to restrain him when Alex shouted, “In the name of Jesus, be silent and come out of him!” Roman was suddenly silent and relaxed as if he was sleeping. The police then saw that we had been telling them the truth. They then knew that Roman had indeed first attacked Alex as we had claimed. There was, however, a palpable sense of fear and confusion coming from the officers. The commotion had drawn several other officers into the room, their guns drawn. It was very tense. I knew they were wondering how Alex had so swiftly silenced Roman. I finally, at that time, understood the spiritual battle that had been going on. Alex spoke what we all had come to understand. He told the officers that Roman was obviously oppressed by a demonic force. Alex wanted to pray for Roman. The officers would not allow it and carried him to a different room.

In the end, Roman was taken to a hospital for observation and we understand that he was released the following day. As we were escorted from the police station and released, one of the older officers told us in an almost fatherly way that he was Russian Orthodox and that he was basically sympathetic to us. He then, however, then gave us the sternest of warnings. He said that if we were the cause of any additional commotions in Kazan, Bill and I would be on the first plane out of the country, and Alex and Sasha would be in jail.

This day did not seem to have a happy ending. We were free to go, but we wondered about the day’s events. In the end, we gave praises to God that we were safe. Despite all the problems; we had shared the gospel with six officers who were required to take our statements. I do not know what happened after we left, but we know and trust that God is in control.

It is important to share what Christ did with others. It should be the most important thing in every believer’s life. We are called to share because we love others as Christ loved us and died for us in order to pay for our sins. If we don’t love others in this way, then we are simply noisy gongs and clanging cymbals and of no use to our heavenly Father. Ask God how He can use you in your “world”. You may be the only Christian some of your friends, family, and co-workers will ever meet. God commands that we set our light on a hill and let it shine. We are never to hide it under a bushel basket. For there, what good does it do? Many of you know that I was a musician playing Christian music and concerts for many years all the while participating on the worship team at Trinity as well. Recently God showed me how all this was of much less value compared to the value of sharing the gospel one on one with even one of my neighbors. Every week, ask God who you can befriend in order to bring them the gospel message. Strike up conversations with people, always having an eye to the possibility of sharing the gospel. Ask God to use you in new ways. I guarantee that if you do this, God will use you in ways that you could have never imagined! God needs only a willing and submissive heart that is prepared to be obedient and to serve.

I look forward to seeing you all back in the Midwest. I plan to speak at several regional churches, telling them what our Lord is doing in Russia and through the believers here. May God keep you all from harm and danger, but above all from sin.

Blessings to you all,

Sharing the Gospel with Roman

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