Paul made a bold declaration in Philippians 1:21, where he says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Does such a bold proclamation of faith in Lord Jesus Christ make us uncomfortable? If we are unsure, may be it is time to measure our Christ Quotient – how boldly can we preach the Gospel to others and at what cost? A true disciple knows that accepting death for Christ is not a defeat, but a moment of graduating into God’s glory.
The bold proclamation of Pastor Paradesi Yonathan, a 46-year old Christian from the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh exemplifies that death is a sure gain for those who loves the Messiah. Pastor Yonathan with his team of eight devout Christians, known as the “Mission Village Team” works amongst the socially backward villages of the Kurnool district.
Every day, since the last four years, Mission Village Team moves from village to village proclaiming the Gospel. Surprisingly, they have few other aides as they do their ministry – curious to know who or what they are? It is their 24-watt microphones, permissible to be used by the law of the land.
They use these microphones to raise their voices amongst the dying souls. What a beautiful sight must it be to see these dedicated men of Christ preaching the message of salvation!
Jesus warned us in Luke 21:12, “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.” Pastor Yonathan and his team are experiencing this very warning – they are facing increased persecution from the last few months.
Roughly three months ago, religious extremist groups have broken two of their microphones into pieces but that couldn’t fade off the voices of praise that Mission Village Team offered the Lord.
Off late, Pastor Yonathan and the team have started receiving threatening calls claiming to burn their vehicles, beat them up or even kill them, if they do not stop preaching in the villages. They are being chased and openly threatened by young extremists. The most recent incident was encountered in the village of Pasupula, a week ago.
The Mission Village Team have reached out to the police and administrative officials and were advised to stop preaching in the villages. Pastor Yonathan quotes that the Constitution of India allows him to freely practice, preach and propagate his faith publicly without creating any nuisance. He says everyone has the choice either to follow or deny the call for salvation. He expresses that they are cautious while doing the ministry work and has no motives to disrupt the peace in the villages.
The extremists not only threaten him and his team but also the villagers attending the prayer meetings. Persecution Relief have reached out to the Mission Village team providing them with microphones and assuring of timely support, whenever required.
When asked, “Are you not scared of being beaten up or killed?”
Pastor Yonathan boldly says that,
“I’m aware of the consequences of our ministry. I know we can be persecuted. Even if the extremists kill us, we will not stop proclaiming the goodness of Christ.” Doesn’t this remind us of what Martin Luther said, “Faith is a living and unshakable confidence. A belief in God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.”
Pastor Yonathan and his team portrays the courage and boldness of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who held no fear when they were thrown into the fiery furnace by the tyrannical king Nebuchadnezzar. As they boldly proclaim Christ, let us uphold them in our prayers.
Pray that our compassionate Lord strengthens, protects and comforts Pastor Yonathan and his team as they face trials, hardships, and persecution.
Pray that the merciful God will fill the villagers of Kurnool District with a heart of steadfast faith in Christ.
Pray & Intercede that our just Lord convicts the persecutors of their sins and lead them to repentance and faith in His divine mercy.
Pray that the land of Andhra Pradesh may witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in His divine will.
Pray that the Almighty God empowers Persecution Relief to serve the persecuted and love the persecutors.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, as you pray, meditate on Colossians 1:13, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son”. Let the Lord of all possibilities hear the prayers of your burdened heart and make ways for the reclamation of the unsaved souls to taste the love of the Everlasting God.
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