The coronavirus and its resulting hardships have increased the suffering of persecuted Christians who were already facing astonishing difficulties. But their response to this overwhelming adversity has inspired us as we have watched them move forward in God’s eternal plan while shunning distraction and discouragement.
None of this year’s events have changed or thwarted God’s plans; everything He has purposed will surely come to pass (Isaiah 14:24). Though many have wondered, “Where is God in all of this?” and have been tempted to despair, God continues to accomplish His eternal purposes amid and even through this world’s problems (Genesis 50:20). His ways are not our ways (see Isaiah 55:8–9), but we can see Him at work through the testimonies of His people. I pray that you are encouraged by the examples we provide in this magazine. Christ says “lift up your eyes” (John 4:35), and, indeed, when we look beyond our challenges, we can see many victories of eternal consequence this year.
As the Apostle Paul says in 2 Cor. 2:11, we are not “outwitted by Satan” because we are not ignorant of his plans. When the enemy fails in his attempts to see us betray or deny our Lord, he tries to distract us from Christ’s commands. It has broken my heart this year to see the enemy use the events of 2020 to turn good and faithful servants (see Matthew 25:23) into frustrated, fearful and fruitless servants.
We must resolve to stay focused on our Lord’s instructions, and we can do so by living with an understanding that His return is imminent.
Unlike many of us in South Africa., Christians in severely persecuted lands have an advantage in embracing this truth because they have little in this world to which they are tempted to cling to. Has 2020 shaken your confidence in the things of this world? Good! Let us celebrate the death of our worldly desires (see 1 John 2:16).
We should awaken each day with the expectation that it may be the day of Christ’s return. Jesus emphasized this sense of urgency when he explained that we must work “while it is day” because “night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). As biblical disciples, our lives are meant to be a continual stream of choices and activities that loudly proclaim the Gospel even when we are not able to speak it aloud.
Regardless of what happens in this fallen world, two things are certain: (1) We still have a Lord, and (2) His instructions remain clear. A veteran missionary once expressed this sentiment by exclaiming, “The Great Commission still stands!” Jesus asked, “... when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8b).
From our CEO,