The following devotional is from “Open Doors USA.” Open Doors is a ministry which serves the persecuted Church. I was particularly moved by this short piece as it is a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness to the church in times of crisis. Moreover, it is a powerful statement that God, despite our weaknesses and shortcomings, will override our wills in order to accomplish his eternal purposes.
When asked to do something we do not like, our first reaction is often negative. In 1981 I went to visit a church that had just lost its pastor. Joseph Ton was “asked” to leave the church by the government. I had to preach in that church that same evening. I saw sadness and confusion and many empty seats … because of fear. I started by asking a question. “Has Joseph Ton left?” They answered, “Yes.” Then I asked another question. “Has the God of this congregation left along with Joseph?” My question fell like thunder. They all answered, “No.” “Then let us give Him glory,” I continued.
A week later, the church committee called me on the telephone to make an appointment with me to meet with them. I realized straight away that they wanted to ask me to become their pastor. I told them that I was not interested and that I could tell them “no” over the phone. “But we still want to visit you.” Of course I could not refuse that request.
The church was fasting and praying for our meeting. The members of the committee came and we talked for a long time. All of a sudden I heard myself say “yes” to their request to become their pastor. When I realized it was not me saying yes, it was from God, peace filled my heart. “Father, not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
“Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” “I will not” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. (Matthew 21:28-29)