The sadness from this two weeks’ events in Afghanistan have been almost overwhelming. My joy has been drained like the wringing of a wet dishrag. I’m especially heartbroken about the women and young girls who face dangerous conditions under Taliban rule. Despite this week’s political failures and national embarrassment, I’ve been encouraged.
I heard someone say last Thursday that the church in Afghanistan is the second fastest-growing church on our planet. I also heard that believers there are strong in their faith and will not buckle to surrender to Islam. They have found true freedom in Christ. The fastest growing church also is facing great persecution.
In 1979 all missionaries were kicked out of Iran; Bibles were banned, and believers suffered greatly. Some were martyred. Today, Iran is the fastest growing church in the world. It is estimated that the church in that nation numbers more than a million believers. (About 83 million people live in the nation.) God is faithfully fulfilling His promise in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
We in America have become lazy Christians. Possibly because we have faced little persecution until recently. When my grandmother was a young adult, she learned about a struggling Pentecostal church and decided to attend since she was hungry for more of God. The building was not much more than a shack in a deteriorating neighborhood, and people threw rotten eggs and rotten tomatoes at the building. Believers were faithful and that struggling small group grew larger and even planted churches in neighboring towns. Today that church is in a lovely building, and the people are well-respected members of the community.
I’ve also been encouraged by words written more than 100 years ago by Ada Ruth Habershon. These old words have become a modern, well-loved hymn: click here
He Will Hold Me Fast
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
He will hold me fast; He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.
Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.
For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight, He will hold me fast.
The Lord wants to comfort you as He has me. He may bring a different hymn or Scripture to your memory. Or, He may prompt a friend to call you, or you may listen to a sermon on the Internet that you sense was especially meant for you. God has many methods to help His children. May you sense His comforting presence today.