Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will have tribulation for 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. - Revelation 2:10 HCSB

My parents were missionaries in a country called Chad on the continent of Africa. They served there several years, establishing churches, starting a seminary, founding several elementary and high schools, and building dispensaries. They did nothing to harm the people and everything they could to help them. They tried to teach them about crop rotation and erosion prevention. They showed them the benefits of separating the source for drinking water from the area where the village bathed and defecated. However, the Chadian church as a whole was weak. Hypocrisy was rampant and my parents were at a loss as to what to do about it.

About that time, the Libyans were threatening invasion. With the possibility of a northern invasion by Muslims, president Tombolbay decided that the best course of action was to unite the country under a single religion, but he didn’t choose Christianity - the religion that had benefited his country the most. He didn’t choose the religion that had almost single-handedly raised his country from the Stone Age to Modernism. No, he chose Yondo: devil worship that had been practiced in his country for centuries without any positive influence or results. In fact, thousands died each year from the practice of Yondo’s arcane ceremonies.

The missionaries were placed under house arrest and Mr. Tombolbay planned to execute us. Though we were miraculously freed eventually, thirteen national pastors were lined up and asked one at a time if they would deny Christ and teach the tenets of Yondo from their pulpits. They were promised wealth and influence if they agreed, and horrible deaths if they refused. One by one they refused. These men, were tortured for three days and all thirteen were buried alive in one big hole to die a slow, suffocating death. The churches, the hospitals, the dispensaries, the schools - all were burned in the ensuing war and riots. The missionaries were all evicted and the Christians scattered to the surrounding countries. Thousands of them died.

Years later, Mr. Tombolbay was killed during a military coup and the new government allowed the return of Christians. Today Christianity is strong in Chad. Oh, the Christians are still persecuted, but that just got rid of all the hypocrites.

I believe there are two lessons to be learned here. First, don’t mess with God’s people. You may feel you’re in control right now, but God has a nasty way of coming out on top.

Second, maybe the best antidote for the hypocrisy and shallowness that is prevalent in the American church would be persecution. Don’t put it past God. He used this technique on Israel many times. Apparently it works.