Paul (not his real name) leads a ministry in a nation known for corruption, oppression and paranoid leadership. The growth is like something out of the book of Acts, and the persecution could come right out of Acts 4.
He was arrested and held by the police for two weeks, while he slept on a cement floor. The Bible college he had started was closed, and he was accused of being a subversive. He was beaten with an iron bar, and the injuries he suffered were so severe, he required surgery as a result.
The authorities knew Paul had done nothing wrong, but they were looking for a payoff to secure his release from prison. The money was raised, and the transaction made for his freedom. During all of this, I never heard him complain and never saw bitterness or resentment in his attitude. He never faltered in ministry or considered leaving his nation, though many leaders of his caliber have emigrated to less-threatening places.
Instead, he has carried on with his work and secured new land to build a new Bible college that today trains 36 students. In spite of the constant threat, Paul has planted 90 churches in all, with 16 new churches planted and 1,000 people baptized in 2010.
He does not have a dominant or outspoken personality but does have a quiet and consistent determination. He persists when others would give up—and Paul is a man of persistent prayer. Through his amazing and challenging experiences, he is known among the leaders and churches he oversees as a leader with a spirit of prayer and dependency on God.
In the midst of such difficult circumstances, believers have given possessions and sold properties to advance the ministry and care for one another. Last year, through sacrificial giving, a new church headquarters building was dedicated that will seat 1,000 people. At present, the government has just announced that they are taxing this new building $19,000 USD, and the first payment is due immediately. Paul has no money and already sold land last year to pay a similar tax on the new Bible college. To make matters worse, his motorcycle was stolen just before Christmas.
What will he do? The same thing believers did in the first century, and have always done when facing impossible situations: Paul will persist when others give up! I consider it a high honor to be able to serve with believers like Paul who are living out the book of Acts today.
By: George Butron, Foursquare Southeast Asia Area Missionary
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