Do you know a Christian in Syria? I do. And when I read a devotional post this morning, I thought about him. The question in the post was:
What if a known radical Muslim member of ISIS or Al Nusra Front called up their church and said, “I’ve had an encounter with Christ. I need someone to come and bring me a Bible and help me learn more about Him”?Remember the description of Paul’s purpose after Stephen’s death?
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (Acts 8:3 KJV)
His reach went even further:
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2 KJV)
What we have today is absolutely threatenings followed by slaughter – taped and in color on screens across the world. Suppose, then, that we received the request:
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. (Acts 9:10-12 KJV)
We know nothing of Ananias’ background to make an informed decision why God called upon him. We do know that when God calls, He provides what is necessary to accomplish His task. But – a vision? Would we consider it simply a dream? The result of the wrong meal selection? Precursor to an upset digestive system?
I can assure you, I expect my response would most likely be stronger than Ananias’:
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. (Acts 9:13-14 KJV)
Could I enter the fiery furnace? The lion’s den? Paul’s hotel room? Even when our Lord tell me:
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:15-16 KJV)
Would it help for me to know that he would suffer? Would I get up, go to that ISIS member and call him “Brother”?
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 9:17 KJV)
Would I believe God still cares about whether or not a lost soul comes to Him? One soul that would have an impact on others? Do I believe that God hears my prayers, answers them, and has a use for me in His planning? That He would give me a task I was capable of fulfilling? Do you?