‘ I know full well that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock’. (Acts 20:29).
He wanted to prepare them to be able to stand against the onslaught which was about to come. Perhaps the Roman soldier who was standing guard nearby caught his eye, and his armour gave him the perfect illustration to help us grasp what standing our ground through the gospel really involves.
When we were in Romania recently, encouraging believers there, we were given a plaque with what Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians on it, and a picture of armour, having no idea how soon we would need to actually put it on ourselves ‘ Use every piece of God’s armour to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm’. (Ephesians 6v13)
The battle for the release of Masih das and Sarita from a hell hole of a prison and the future of Bethany House and the new churches planted in the tribal area was, and still is, very intense. Masih das and Sarita are still in prison following the brutal murder of one of their boys, but no charge has yet been brought against them; horrible things are being said in the local media against Christians because of the gay aspect to the murder. Homosexuality is still considered as repulsive and a punishable act in India.
Because of the persecution of Christians, most of our time last week was spent as undercover Holy Spirit agents, praying for Masih das and Sarita, praying for their son Aman, praying for the believers who’ve become invisible because of fear. We would go up onto the roof top of our hotel and pray to the north, south, east and west, declaring the promises of God , many of them given to us by friends before we went.
Things were very bleak at times (and not just because of the effect of the constant unfamiliar diet of non-stop curry on our tummies), but because of
- The pressure to give bribes (‘It’s OK , it’s the way things are done in India’)
- Sarita’s uncle dying and her mother developing pneumonia (a double whammy)
- The police refusing to let Aman and family members go into Bethany House to collect things after a five hour cross country road journey to get there
- Offers from ‘impartial’ advisors to help not being quite what they seemed, and
- Frustrations with getting internet communications.
We had to stand firm to be of any help out there. They really are in the thick of a spiritual battle.
I used to struggle with the idea of the devil and demons until going to India and experiencing the spiritual darkness coming out of the vast temple to Kali in Kolkata, where blood from the animal sacrifices ran down the street and people with blood shot eyes and painted torsos danced and raved. And then I discovered there was a temple to Kali in our hotel; we had to cut it’s power supply off!
When you’re vulnerable and don’t know what’s going on, and you don’t know how long it’s going to take, and you don’t know what’s going to happen, what do you do?
Our basic weapon in the fight against satan is to read scripture and declare its truth. I remember discovering great insights into the effectiveness of the Roman shield when visiting Colchester Castle where there is a whole interactive exhibition given over to the soldier’s armour (I recommend every Christian ought to visit the castle if serious about spiritual warfare!)
The Roman shield was designed to extinguish any flaming arrows that were fired at them by their barbarian enemies. Genuine faith starves
- discouragement and
of the oxygen they need to wreck our lives and the advance of the gospel. Holding the scriptures open before God, gives the devil’s lies no room to breathe. Faith in the truth is a solid defence against the lie.
Please stand with us this Wednesday, 10 August, when the lies brought against Masih das and Sarita of condoning gay activity amongst the children in Bethany House will be tested before a judge when lawyers apply for bail for them. The lawyers representing them specialise in cases of prejudice against Dalits and tribal people. Please pray for the truth to shine out brightly on Wednesday.
Because of the five and a half hour time difference it would be good to have some friends praying here in the UK early Wednesday morning.
We are on the path to a miracle as we learn to stand. We don’t have to defeat the devil because Jesus has already defeated him. We don’t have to achieve anything ourselves. We simply have to stand and look for the Lord to step in and vindicate his isolated, persecuted servants, our brother and sister in Christ.
“God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 MSG).
It would be great if He spots us on Wednesday and lets us have a close up of a great miracle!!