Why Does God Allow Persecution

Welcome to our new podcast series, Asked and Answered.” This is a question and answer style podcast with Ron and Charis Pearce. Do you have a question that you would like answered? If so we would love to hear it. Simply go to askus@​ronpearce.​org to get in touch. And remember, check back often to see if your question has been asked and answered. My name is Joy Kita and as always, I will be your host. Now today we have an interesting and I think kind of a difficult question and it is, what is the purpose of persecution for believers?

Ron- Well, this is a very deep subject and we are only going to scratch the surface of it because I would have to pull out my Bible and reference all the scriptures, especially New Testament ones that talk about persecution and what the purpose of it is. Peter especially in his writing, he says hang on tight because it’s going to purify you and what we are seeing today in the world is that the national church is being purified by persecution. It is something that God has allowed to come upon believers as a natural consequence of our changed lives and it does purify the believer. It really solidifies our walk with God and it shows how determined we are to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. So, therefore, you’ve got to really think Joy, about the fact that yes there is a purification, God allows it to come into our life, but there is one other factor that I want to key in on today and that is the whole idea of what is the purpose of it as far as evangelism is concerned? And when I say that it is, how do unbelievers look at the Christians once they see them undergoing such torment, torture, punishment, sacrifice, all the things that we would go through, how do the unbelievers look at that? I’m going to tell you a story and this was many years ago, this would be back in the mid-90s and I was in Vietnam, and a dear brother of ours who heads up a huge organization, he and his network have started 2500 churches in Southeast Asia, he really opened my eyes to something when I was a rookie. He said, You should see, in the prisons especially, when I was in there, he said, all the prisoners would ask Why don’t you break? Why don’t you renounce your faith in Jesus? It would be so simple.’ And I wouldn’t and they kept wondering and watching and they just couldn’t understand it but after a while,” he said, the lights came on and they saw that I was a different person inside and the persecution was the vehicle God uses to expose the new birth, the transformation of our insides.” We are like we’re in a spotlight, it’s like a theatre, and all the spotlights are on the performers at the front and in the audience it’s all dark and you never know in a situation like that how many people are watching in the audience. It could be one it could be 10,000, you never know. But the spotlights are on you, the performer and as you perform everybody in the audience just looks at you because the spotlight is on you. They are looking and they are saying, what is in that person, what makes them different, why do they pray? There was a fellow that we used to know, in fact, we had a good relationship with him when he got out of China, his name was Brother Yuen, heavenly man, and I still remember one time we were driving down in the car and he was telling stories and he talked about one time he was being tortured for his faith and they had him in this chair and as he was being tortured, the Lord led him to pray for one of the guards who was actually inflicting the pain on him, to pray for him and his family. Here he was praying for this man he didn’t even know and the guy was having to do something to his fingers, and I’m not going to get into the story, the bloody details and gore, but he was doing this to brother Yuen and brother Yuen was praying for his family and he couldn’t believe it. The guard started to cry and tears were coming down his cheek, and the lieutenant was telling this guard what to do, and he couldn’t understand what it was all about but here the guard was just crying. That guard came to him after a while when he was out of that torture session and asked, Why are you praying for me? Why did you pray for my family?” Well, he got the opportunity to lead him to Christ on the other side of the prison door. You never know who’s watching at any given time. That, I look at, is the number one reason that God allows persecution. It is because it shows what we are really like inside when we are born again.

<p>Prison cell</p>
I still remember one time we were driving down in the car and he was telling stories and he talked about one time he was being tortured for his faith and they had him in this chair and as he was being tortured, the Lord led him to pray for one of the guards who was actually inflicting the pain on him, to pray for him and his family.

Joy- Well, I remember, I think it was you that told me this story or it might have been one that I read about China and it was an account of believers being transported down a street for the public to see, almost like a public parade. It was humiliating obviously but at the same time, it got the people who were watching in the crowds asking why are these people being hurt and abused? What have they done?

Ron- Yes, exactly and I know the situation because the young lady told me about it. It was a Bible School situation in China and they stripped them down naked and they marched them through the streets with big signs around them saying these are the Christians, these people believe in Jesus and God. These are Western informants. All this sort of propaganda. They marched them down and it was supposed to break them but actually what it did was strengthen them. She told me about this and I remember sitting at a tea house in China with her and her husband. She said we were marched down and that was probably one of the strongest moments of my Christian walk with God because it solidified like cement my walk with Jesus. She said I was not ashamed of the Gospel for it was the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. She said, All the unbelievers knew that we were good people and that we hadn’t done anything wrong, that we were innocent.” She basically did this, she equated it to when Jesus was led to slaughter to the cross. He was led through town with a cross over his shoulder and everyone knew that he was a good man, and they were wondering, Why is this good man being punished?” And everybody that day was wondering why we were being punished in a similar way to Jesus. That is all she could think about, Jesus carrying his cross.

She said I was not ashamed of the Gospel for it was the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.

Charis- It’s very interesting too because the guards, the governments, whoever is doing the persecuting in all the different countries think that they’re going to stop the spread of the Gospel but in actuality, it spreads it faster because it causes people to ask questions.

Ron- Exactly. They don’t understand who the Holy Spirit is and the power of the Holy Spirit both to strengthen us, to invigorate us, to do whatever he does to build into our lives the stamina to keep on going no matter what. That is foreign to the guards and the persecutors and the governments and religious forces that would try to, as you say, Charis, try to eradicate it. You can’t, it goes backwards.

Joy- You would think they would pick up on that.

Ron- It’s all they know. Remember that most of these people are being governed by their lower nature and their lower nature is not being totally controlled but influenced strongly by Satan and Satan is blind to this truth. He does not believe it, he doesn’t see it and he just wants to hurt the church as much as he can. To hurt the Bride of Christ means you hurt Jesus and, therefore, he is trying to do that.

Joy- So to further this discussion, the church in North America, we are not persecuted like the church overseas.

Ron-Different, we are different. We are not necessarily physically persecuted for our faith, although some people are, and therefore, the first ones that are yelling now at the other end listening to this podcast are saying, Well I was!” Okay, but not quite in the same way. We suffer differently, a different type of persecution and that is the subtle, almost passive, type of materialism, misplaced values, all those things and that is really the persecution that we go through here. Brother Sam Lam taught me that story years ago, I was sitting upstairs with him in Guangzhou, China. He was in prison for 22 years and I said, We pray for you all the time and the church in China because you’re going through such persecution.” Oh no,” he says, Ron we pray for you all the time in America because yours is so much more severe than ours.” I said, You’re kidding! How can this be?” He said, We’re so blessed, we have physical persecution, they put us in jail and they beat us and starve us.” He went on with a nice little list there that he had gone through. And then he said, But you folks, you have misplaced values, moral degradation in the church, it’s ripping society apart, you’ve got materialism, you’ve got distractions from all the wealth and all these things, it’s much more severe where you live, it’s just different.” And that’s true, it’s a different type of persecution. But which is the more effective persecution from a Kingdom point of view? Ours here is the much more effective way of sidelining us. That is the sad part. Very seldom do I hear about physical persecution crippling a believer, crippling a church, or doing anything like that. I was just over in Vietnam a couple of weeks ago, and there were these two young men sitting at the table and they were telling me about when the communist Vietnamese government came in and tore down their church. I forget how many people were in the church but I’m going to give a quick estimate here, 650. It was a tribal zone, they made this church beautiful, the government came in, hundreds and hundreds of soldiers and they ripped it down. They took the ceiling tile and sold it to get the money and divide it amongst themselves or whatever, and the people were left with no building. They had gone into the jungle to cut down trees to build these teak wood log walls and boy, fancy place and they took it all down. I saw the footage of it on YouTube, it still might be there and somebody on their phone took the pictures of it being ripped down. Well, it didn’t stop the church and I talked to these two young pastors and I said, So, what did you do?” Oh, the day after we built it up again. We didn’t have the walls in the same nice wood and everything. We had to have a tarpaulin.” And they made it makeshift but they were back in business the next day. And I said, Overall, what has happened?” and he said, Oh, the church doubled in size and we went across the road tucked away in the jungle a little bit and we put up a Bible School.” Then he said, The church was so big we needed Sunday school rooms so we put those in another part of the jungle just a little ways away and we had to have a training center.” So I said, What was the effect?” He said, They tore down the one building but we put up four in its place!” So I said, It wasn’t that bad?” Oh no,” he said, it was fine.” At the time it appeared devastating but in the long run we could see the plan of God in the whole thing.

Charis- And I find it interesting that in so many places they don’t pray that they don’t have persecution, they pray for the strength to endure it.

Ron- Exactly.

Joy- That is what I am sitting here thinking, that we or that I certainly need to rethink how I view persecution because clearly the Lord has a great purpose for it.

Ron- When the time comes, he will give us the strength to go through it. Up until that time, we can only imagine. God provides grace and His touch and His empowering that is available to the believers. He will provide according to the need of the moment. Therefore, we have to only hold on to this thought. Persecution is good just not enjoyable. It’s good from all angles, the angles being, how unbelievers view Christians, good in the fact that it helps the church to grow, good in the fact that it strengthens us as believers. It’s just no one ever likes pain or suffering. I don’t know one person that likes going to the dentist. Why? Because we sit there and take pain and it’s not enjoyable. Is it good for us? Yes.

Joy- Okay, well you have certainly answered that question. Again, if you want your question to be answered remember to go to askus@​ronpearce.​org and check back to this podcast to see if Ron and Charis have answered your question. I’m Joy Kita, thanks for listening.

<p>Jungle church</p>
“Oh, the church doubled in size and we went across the road tucked away in the jungle a little bit and we put up a Bible School.”

But you folks, you have misplaced values, moral degradation in the church, it’s ripping society apart, you’ve got materialism, you’ve got distractions from all the wealth and all these things, it’s much more severe where you live, it’s just different.

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