Documented incidents include Christians being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges and trampled under-foot.
I know so little of sacrifice.
A new report was recently published about the life of Christians in North Korea, and all of the incredibly creative ways that regime has invented to humiliate, torture, imprison, rape, and murder anyone who dares pick up a Bible.
But the scariest part of that report?
A policy of guilt by association applies, meaning that the relatives of Christians are also detained regardless of whether they share the Christian belief.
Did you get that?
The cost of following Jesus in North Korea is not just your job, not just your well-being, not just your freedom....but your whole family. Your mom, your brother, your children can be put in a prison camp, raped, or run over by a steamroller because you chose Jesus.
It's incomprehensible. Unfathomable.
I know so little of sacrifice.
Sure, I can tell myself that I have chosen to live in a country with medical care that is vastly inferior than we would have in America. Sometimes it is scary to raise kids here. But I also am still American, with my full-coverage medical insurance that allows my children to be medically evacuated if it ever comes to that. Sure, I worry, but I know the risk is low.
Besides....God would never ask me to sacrifice my kids....right?
Yet I worship the same God who has asked exactly that of the North Korean Christians. I stand under the same sky, breathe the same air, and have the same kind of soul as they do. Who am I to think that he wouldn't ask the same of me?
In America right now, the sentiment seems to be exactly the opposite. We sacrifice for our kids, but we wouldn't think of sacrificing them. We start college accounts when they are babies. We go to every soccer game; we work two jobs to send them to private school; our lives revolve around their extracurricular activities. I get this. I feel this, even from here. I want the best for my kids too.
But what if our kids' activities become so important that we have no time for ministry? No time to get to know our neighbors? No time even for church? What if God called my children to be missionaries...in Congo...in Iraq...in North Korea? What if I was convicted that the college money would be better spent showing a dying neighbor that Jesus loves him? Would I resist....or obey?
I realize it's a hard balance. I'm not saying we go back to the old days when fathers would leave their families for years at a time in the name of ministry. I know of missionaries who waited to work in highly dangerous countries until their children were grown. I have supported many missionary friends who left Tanzania due to the needs of their children. It goes without saying that Christians are to put a high priority on ensuring their children are safe, educated, and loved.
Yet when do we hit the point where we love our children more than Jesus? Where we tell him, You can have anything, Lord, just not my kids?
I really don't know where that line is. It might not be the same for each person and it might not be the same in each situation. But judging from the example of my North Korean brothers and sisters, I must come to the conclusion that God does sometimes ask us to sacrifice our children for the sake of the gospel.
After all, the greatest treasure in the universe came from the sacrifice of a Son.