I’m going through a phase where I’m teetering on the brink of losing faith. In one sense I’m losing faith in God, but not how you might think. I believe God wants to provide for me. I believe God nudges others to help me. But people in our culture have become so self-absorbed, they don’t respond to promptings from God to sacrifice something to help someone. I guess I’ve lost faith that God has the power to overcome the selfishness of so-called Christians to move them in a way that would answer my prayers.
Nik Ripkin Tells a Story of God’s Provision through Fellow Believers
With this in mind, I purchased the book, The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected. The author, Nik Ripkin (a pseudonym), had spent years working as a missionary and relief worker in Africa. After leaving war-torn Somalia in the 1990s, he was overwhelmed and devastated, wondering if God could ever make a difference in such an evil place.
He traveled the world to listen to the stories of persecuted Christians. This story in China struck my attention because it’s exactly the kind of provision I’m talking about that I’m not seeing today.
When the authorities arrested and imprisoned a house-church pastor and father of seven children, they also placed his wife under house-arrest. The pastor’s wife was told that she was allowed to leave her home only to shop at the local market. That didn’t seem to matter much to her; she had no money to purchase food at the market anyway. She had to rely on faithful fellow house-church members for food. As it turns out, they provided for her well.
She would wear a baggy smock with large pockets over her other clothes when she went to her village’s open-air market. Walking slowly through the crowd as she wandered in and out among the stalls, she would notice a nudge here and a tug there until she had walked through the entire market. By the time she reached home, her pockets would be filled with tomatoes and onions and other items. Sometimes there was money in a pocket. She always seemed to come home with just enough food to feed her family of eight for another day.
Occasionally, when those seven children got really hungry, the mother would be surprised to find a chicken on her front steps. One day her oldest son was offered a job in a nearby city—and there just happened to be a bicycle leaning up against their front door. Seemingly out of the blue, the boy had transportation to and from work.
The network of house churches did not have, or want, church buildings to gather in, or sanctuaries with rows of pews where people could sit and worship on Sunday mornings. But they certainly knew what it meant to love and look after the concerns and needs of their members.
They knew what it meant to be church for one another.
–Nik Ripkin, The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected, excerpt from Chapter 24: Secret Rendezvous.
I know God can work in my situation, but will He? Will He be able to overcome the selfishness of others to get me the help I need? The answer, for far too long, has felt like no.
That is the crisis of faith I’m experiencing.
|The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith ResurrectedBy Nik Ripken with Gregg Lewis / B&H Books
How far would your faith take you? Would it take you to another continent to help desperate people? Would you still be able to serve them after the sudden death of your child?For Nik and Ruth Ripken the answer to all these questions is yes. For years the Ripken family has ministered in the Muslim world, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa. The Insanity of God tells the story of their remarkable journey. They’ve seen unspeakable evil in Somalia when four of their best friends and Christian converts were killed by radical Muslims, and when their sixteen-year-old son Timothy died suddenly from a severe asthma attack in Kenya. Despite these heartbreaking circumstances, their faith has survived as they learned from the persecuted people they came to serve.
The Insanity of God asks many difficult questions. Questions that are especially difficult for the average American to come to terms with. Yet the Ripken family, along with millions of other persecuted Christians around the world have decided to follow Christ regardless of the personal danger, because they know who Jesus was and is. And that makes all the difference.
|The Insanity of God – eBookBy Nik Ripken & Gregg Lewis (foreword by David Platt) / B&H Books|