Not only my HAND, But My LIFE for My Jesus Christ!

(Philippians 1:19-23) For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

In the midst of the hyper focus of Christians in America (and throughout the world), on the presidential election this past week, I was blessed to be missing most of it, being occupied in other things. On Monday, the Lord Jesus kindly, opened a door for me to fellowship with pastors from India, who are men of God. These men asked me to share God’s word with them. Truth told, they live God’s word in ways my teaching could never effectively communicate. Over the course of a couple of hours with them on a zoom call, I was the one blessed, as they live in circumstances most American Christians would crumble under.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, as part of the Courtside Ministries team in Seneca County, I was immersed in the size of our mission. So many people who need redemption in Christ, deliverance in Christ, Healing in Christ and discipleship in Christ. Our team rejoiced in the power of God, evident in sharing the gospel, praying for God’s power to come to bear in difficult trials and the joy we all shared in simply focusing on our 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year mission: To testify of the risen Savior.

The one political reality we admitted, was regardless of who wins the elections, we would joyfully and with all the strength we can muster, meet again in ministry next Tuesday and Wednesday, God willing. We all were aware that regardless of what was shaking a large amount of the Christian population, under the blue skies and in the cold morning air, we were part of God’s will, work and kingdom; a kingdom that will never be overcome, shaken or diminished, because our King Jesus is and always will be undefeated.

(Acts 2:23-24) Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

Which brings me to today and a testimony concerning a brother in Christ who lives in Ethiopia. What he declared a truth perhaps we will lay hold of, which is alluded to in Philippians 1:19-23 above.

Kofi is willing to sacrifice his life for Christ.

When the young Ethiopian man came to faith his community turned against him, but he remains committed to following Christ. Kofi grew up as a Muslim, but when an evangelist introduced him to Christ, he was instantly drawn to the saving grace of God and became a Christian. As Kofi grew in his faith, he began sharing it with others, which angered local mosque leaders. They brought him before the local Islamic court, where Kofi told them he could never give up his new faith. The leaders decided to set a trap for him, sending a mob out to the farmland of Kofi’s brother, claiming a property line dispute. When Kofi appeared, the crowd shouted, “This is the enemy of Allah!” and began to beat him. His left hand was so badly injured that doctors had to amputate it. Pray for Kofi, who told Christians who visited him, “I am happy not only to give my hand for Jesus, but I am ready to give my life for faith in Jesus Christ.” Pray for continued recovery, provision and witness in the area.

A little information is in order, concerning the country brother Kofi lives in. Ethiopia is  a growing and militant Islamic population. On the other hand, the nation touts religious freedom, but does not protect Christians. It has been this way for decades. In this environment, Kofi and the majority of the Christian population do not seek for politicians to give them the life they desire, because they do not desire a material peace or kingdom. They seek to be faithful to Jesus, even when losing their hand.

We Christians in America ought to mark well what Kofi declared ““I am happy not only to give my hand for Jesus, but I am ready to give my life for faith in Jesus Christ.” He apparently is living in Paul’s wheelhouse, rather than  an erroneous one built by misuse of scripture we have built. What is Paul’s wheelhouse, or that of those in the early church or those who truly love God’s word?

“as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”

Kofi is willing to live in a nation where Christian’s have no rights, to glorify God. He is willing to love his enemies and seek not his own preference, for the glory of God. He rejoices to bear the marks of Christ’s suffering, as an honor and privilage and even die, if it is for the glory of Christ. Are we?

Amazon.com: Beyond the Gates of Splendor: Steve Saint, Carmela, Dawa,  Dayumae, Frank Drown, Kathy Saint Drown, Elisabeth Elliot Gren, Dave  Howard, Kimo, Olive Fleming Liefeld, Christopher Maleki, Marilou McCully,  Jim Hanon, Bill

Beyond the Gates of Splendor” is a documentary film, which tells the story of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully and Peter Fleming; how they were martyred by a violent and isolated tribe in the Amazon Basin of South America. A 1957 book by Jim Elliott’s widow entitled “Through the Gates of Splendor” recounts what became of the five men of God, as well.

In the documentary, and years after the murder of the men, a friend who worked for the Exon company, recounted a conversation he had with the men a short time before he left to make first contact with this tribe. Knowing the murderous leanings of this particular tribe, this friend of the men pleaded for them to take weapons for their safety. Though they had weapons the five men declared, they would never use them on the tribesmen, because although the missionaries knew where they were going, should they die, the Acau Indians did not..

A year after their death, after Jim Elliott’s wife Elizabeth and her two children and Rachel Saint (sister of martyred Nate Saint), went into the jungle to locate this murderous tribe and continue what the 5 men began. To everyone’s surprise they were received. After receiving the gospel, they laid down their spears and most of the tribe became followers of Jesus.

The point is, that these American missionaries and their families, have the same Spirit which gives resurrection power to Kofi, enabling him to pledge not just his hand to heaven, but his head, his life and for all of them whatever is theirs.

Whether Jesus operates in us in the fashion and fullness He did in the Christians we discussed, is up to us. Fear, invoking personal sovereignty, or placing things or people above God in our life, hinders us from living out the absolute commitment we are called to in Christ.

The largest portion of the problem is that being “saved”, has been made a prayer about our forgiveness, rather than entering into relationship with Almighty God, The Most High and Holy One. Misunderstanding forgiveness, we make our salvation about what we gain, rather than living a relationship to God, whereas loving bond slaves, we are willing to pledge our life to Christ.

Revelation 12:11-12 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Christians in America must admit that the political difficulties we face are not as existentially threatening as they are made to be. We must also admit, our problems are not the tribulations and persecutions our brethren face around the world. Do we have the same heart and commitment to live for our Lord and Savior as they do? As you consider this fair question, I have included a song to aid in your effort from Keith Green “I Pledge My Head”. The lyrics are below the video.

Well, I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel,
And I ask no man on earth to fill my needs.
Like the sparrow up above, I am enveloped in his love,
And I trust him like those little ones, he feeds.

Well I pledge my wife to heaven, for the gospel,
Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.
As I told her when we wed, Id surely rather be found dead,
Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul.
I’m your child, and I want to be in your family forever.
I’m your child, and I’m going to follow you,
No matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.

Well I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel.
Though he’s kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorn.
I will teach him to rejoice, and life a thankful praising voice,
And to be like him who bore the nails and crown of thorns.
I’m your child, and I want to be in your family forever.
I’m your child, and I’m going to follow you,
No matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.

Well I’ve had the chance to gain the world, and to live just like a king,
But without your love, it doesn’t mean a thing.
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost,
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.

Well I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven,
I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven, for the gospel.

About Michael J Erdel

Mike is a pastor with The Assembly of God Fellowship. He is the lead pastor at Encounter Church in Fostoria Ohio. His desire is to encourage the Church of Jesus Christ, and declare God's hope through His Son Jesus, to a world which is long on excuses and short on hope. Mike has experienced the truth that when we kneel before Christ, surrendering to Him as Savior and LORD, being led and empowered by His Spirit. To Jesus Christ be all glory and honor.
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