Monday, 9 December 2013

Building a Cell

Firstly I'd like to apologize for the late post! J is away on holiday in South East Asia and I am serving at an outreach in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, so finding to time (and internet) is a bit tough!

I am currently volunteering with a team from Pretoria at an incredible place called LIV Village! Words cannot describe how amazing my time here has been. LIV is a special place...a place of hope, inspiration and new beginnings. They take in orphans and widows, giving them a home and a family.

After such a hectic year, being away from the "big city" has been unbelievable! I have been surrounded by such amazing people over the past week and I can honestly say I haven't felt this good in a while....this got me thinking...

Just before we left Pretoria for the beauty of Kwa-Zulu Natal, our team leader asked me to prepare a prayer evening for the persecuted church which we would have on one of the nights at LIV. I must admit I didn't know too much about the topic, and was therefore all the more keen to take the opportunity.

Looking at various websites and watching numerous videos I saw the horrific circumstances millions of Christians are placed in everyday and felt immense guilt at how easily I fall into the trap of taking South Africa's right to "religious freedom" for granted! I couldn't believe the immense risks people took just to own a Bible or to gather together and pray!

Now backtracking LIV, our volunteer group decided that we want to have a prayer chain running through the night with one group of two praying for an hour before being replaced by the next group, and so on and so on. Now I don't know if you have ever tried to wake up at 2 in the morning to pray before, but it is tough!! Studying architecture means sleep is rare in my life and I take FULL advantage of my sleep during the holidays....needless to say I have REALLY struggled with the random midnight prayer times! I remember complaining to my girlfriend, Sam on Wednesday, saying how much I disagree with waking up at all hours of the night to pray and that I thought it would be better to have prayers either before or after we sleep. This however, all changed....

On Saturday I led our "Pray for the Persecuted Church" evening. It was such an incredible and emotional time for us all, as God started to break our hearts for our brothers and sisters halfway around the world. We all agreed that we, as Christians in South Africa, have it so so SO easy! I could run down a busy street or shopping mall with a Bible, bell and loudspeaker proclaiming that I am a Christian and no one would bat an eyelid....

Hearing stories of people being beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for owning a Bible or meeting together as a church I felt such guilt for not even being able to wake up for an hour of prayer. I thought of how complacent a Christian I can get sometimes...especially when "life gets busy" (I DESPISE this excuse!)

Something that seemed to speak to everyone was a quote from a Chinese church leader who spent 23 years in prison for being a Christian....speaking to Christians who did not face persecution he said:

"I was pushed into a cell, but you have to push yourself into one. You have no time to know God.You need to build yourself a cell, so you can do for yourself what persecution did for me - simplify your life and know God."

Reading this and seeing how the last week of serving others and spending a lot of time with God has positively impacted my life, I realised how important it is to "build yourself a cell" Open Doors puts it; It is VITAL that we spend time with God, to grow in him.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to take this holiday time to reflect on the past year. Start building your cell! Make sure you spend as much time as possible in the Lord's presence....putting other things above our God will not end in your contentedness - this I promise you. I know it is easy to become too busy with other responsibilities, but I encourage you to manage your time differently if necessary. Ensure that God is the number one priority in your life! Make a set devotion/pray time for you and if you have someone you can pray with that's even better as he/she will hold you accountable.

I pray that God will touch you through this and that you'll feel encouraged to put God above all Him with everything! Do not worry about anything on this Earth....our loving God is in control!

Peace and Love everybody


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