For thousands of global Christians, suffering for the sake of the gospel is more than a rush of social media chatter and videos and speculation. It's a daily reality that comes with following Jesus and desiring a better country.
The following story was printed in Connections for July 18-19.
"Choose Jesus or choose your family!" Mannu's parents threw down the gauntlet. She chose Jesus and never saw her parents again. The pain aches to this day.
Mannu had been living in India, but one year after her marriage, she and her husband relocated to their native Nepal. At that time it was illegal to witness to Hindus. Evangelists faced a six-year prison sentence. In spite of the threat, they immediately began a church in their living room. Some of the first believers were neighbor women whom Mannu taught to sew. They believed and brought their husbands. Today the church has more than two thousands members.
Mannu's husband was arrested but freed on bail while his case was pending. Eight years later his case finally came to court. He was sentenced to six years in jail followed by banishment. His lawyer advised him to activate the banishment at once, rather than go to jail. He did.
But Mannu stayed and appealed the case to the king. If she lost the appeal, she would be imprisoned in her husband's place. She had peace about that. It was more important for her husband to stay out of jail, because his ministry was more pivotal, she felt. She stayed because she felt God had given her Jeremiah 42:10-12:
"If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down. I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you. Do not be afraid of the king . . . whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land."
Several months later, a national revolution took place. Mannu's husband returned, and in time, received, awards from the ministry of education for the Nepali textbooks he had written while in exile.
When Mannu first learned of her husband's arrest, their children were in boarding school in India. She traveled to the school, took her three children apart into a corner and talked to them about the joy and the suffering that comes with serving the Lord. Then she told them their father had been taken.
"How come Daddy gets all the privileges? was her oldest daughter's response to the bleak news. Since that time, that girl has graduated from Vellore Medical School and has returned to Nepal to provide medical care for her people.
Stop by the church any Friday at noon and join the group that prays for the persecuted church. The group meets from noon-1 p.m. in the room across from the Reception Desk in the Church Office (which is in the Commons).
Also, mark your calendars for the Fall Missions Festival, October 9-11, with its focus on the persecuted church.