Next Level Commitment

Soo Seok Yang and John Ed Mathison


Soo Seok Yang is an outstanding Christian young man in Montgomery. I’ve served with him on several things here in Montgomery. He is a lawyer with Beasley Allen and recently wrote a devotional for their entire staff. He heard this story from his father-in-law, who has been a missionary in Taiwan for the past 35 years.

During the Korean War, Soo Seok’s grandmother and her husband were held at gunpoint by North Korean soldiers who had invaded a church where his grandparents were attending. The soldiers ripped off a portrait of Jesus from the church wall and ordered everyone in the sanctuary to spit and trample on Jesus’s portrait. The penalty for failing to do this would be certain death.

Soo Seok’s grandmother and grandfather and a few other church members risked their lives by refusing to follow the orders. It was a terrifying situation. The North Korean soldiers then did a strange thing. They started executing everyone at the church except those who had refused to spit and trample on Jesus’s portrait. They did not kill his grandparents because they reasoned that they could be radicalized and would make good communists. Wrong reasoning! Soo Seok comes from a family with next level Christian commitment. What would you and I do in that situation?

Open Doors, a non-profit ministry to support persecuted Christians, reports:

  • Persecution of Christians is increasing in the world. Open Doors reports that over 260 million Christians have experienced high levels of persecution.
  • 2,983 Christians were killed for their faith.
  • 3,711 believers have been detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, or in prison.
  • Today, 11 countries have extreme levels of persecution of Christians. 6 years ago, North Korea was the only one.
  • Greater numbers of women are experiencing persecution. They have double persecution – one for being a Christian and one for being a woman.

In the past 12 years, I have taught in pastor’s conferences in several different countries. I’ve met many pastors who are being or have been persecuted. Their persecution only serves to make them more passionate about planting churches and winning people to Christ! I’ve seen where the Enemy tries to blow out the flame of the commitment of Christians, but it only serves to fan the flame!!

Jesus calls all of us to follow Him. In Luke 9:57-62, people said they were ready to follow but offered excuses for not doing it immediately. Jesus didn’t accept excuses. Acts 7:55-60 tells of Stephen, the first martyr. He was stoned. It led to Saul’s conversion to Paul, and the flame and fire of God’s Spirit was ignited. Jesus doesn’t call us to a Sunday afternoon picnic, but to follow where He is leading!

The Christian faith is growing exponentially in many parts of the world. It is declining in the United States. America has more churches, but less commitment. Other parts of the world have more persecution, but also more power, purpose, and growth. Reflect on that.

The big question for you and me – what is the level of my commitment?

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