I listened again to Steve Parlato’s account of their ministry in SE Asia and the price that new believers paid for following Jesus and telling others about him. It's a bitter/sweet story.
People went to prison, people disappeared, some were killed.
Today I spoke to someone working in the same part of the world. He immediately teaches new believers about sharing the gospel, getting baptised and persecution. I’ve never taught a new believer about persecution.
Brian Tabb has written a great overview of the relationship between persecution and the spread of the gospel in Acts.
He has identified five lessons, all still relevant today:
- Jesus’ suffering and vindication are the surprising means by which God accomplishes his promised plan of salvation.
- Believers’ suffering serves a strategic missional purpose in light of God’s inaugurated-not-yet-consummated kingdom.
- Suffering validates the legitimacy of the church and especially its leaders, who suffer like Jesus in fulfillment of his predictions.
- Suffering fundamentally expresses the world’s brokenness from sin and Satanic oppression.
- Believers should respond to suffering through concerted prayer, bold witness, and joyful, confident hope.
Brian’s article is a good resource for anyone who needs to help new believers deal with the cost of following Jesus.