“Fanning the flame”
Recently I have sat with a number of missionaries who have had to leave their mission station unexpectedly due to persecution by government officials. As an open country, Thailand ends up receiving a number of these missionaries, many of whom are planning to set up a new base for outreach in Chiang Mai due to its strategic location. Some will end up ministering within Thailand, others will regroup and go elsewhere. As I am teaching through the book of Acts this semester, I am reminded often of the numerous incidences of persecution in that book. In John Stott’s commentary on Acts he describes what happened to CIM missionaries back in 1949 when they were forced out of China: “Six hundred and thirty-seven China Inland Mission missionaries were obliged to leave. It seemed a total disaster. Yet within four years 286 of them had been redeployed in South-East Asia and Japan, while the national Christians in China, even under severe persecution, began to multiply and now total thirty or forty times the number they were when the missionaries left.” Just as in the book of Acts, the persecutors of the Faith thought they could extinguish the church, but instead ended up pouring oil onto the fire. Could it be that a similar thing is happening today? Do pray that OMF workers who are being redeployed will have a clear understanding of God’s leading and that the church they are leaving will expand exponentially.