Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Following Jesus

Summary of story as told by The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Check out more information here.

"Salavat" is a pastor in the predominantly Muslim nation ofUzbekistan who has often been beated and detained by the government and was recently released from a six-month prison term. While he was in prison there was no one to care for his wife and five children because church members lived in fear of Muslim persecution. Many days his family went without food.

Once released "Salavat's" fortune did not quickly change. None of the believers would come to church because they were too afraid. For two days Salvat praised God alone in his church, remembering Hebrews 10:34 and vowing to joyfully accept the plundering of his property in the name of Jesus. And while he embraced imprisonment, the plundering of his good and the abandonment of other believers with humility before God, he found it difficult to accept his family's suffering. There was very little food and no help in sight, and the day finally came when what little food there was ran out.

His 7-year old oldest daughter "Rachel" asked, "Dad, when will we have something to eat?" Salavat did not have an answer. He simply said, "Let's wait until morning. We'll have breakfast then."

The next morning Salavat woke at his usual 5 a.m. time for time with the Lord. Rachel also rose, again asking, "When will we eat? I'm hungry." Salavat prayed fervently for his family, and after his prayer he told her, "We'll have something to eat in a bit. Let's go out and work in the garden while we wait."

As they worked they hard a car approaching. Two men got out of the car and asked for Salavat by name. They said, "We were not supposed to be here today, but the Lord has sent us," as they handed Salavat an envelope. Salavat looked inside and found $200 - more than a month's wages. The two men left quickly and Salavat and his daughter ran after them to thank them.

When they reached the street there was no car. There wasn't even proof there had ever been a car. No cloud of dust. No fading engine sound. No tracks. Nothing.

Rachel looked at her father, then at the enveleop still in his hands, and said, "Dad, from now on your God will be my God." Eventually other believers returned to the Lord, gaining courage from their pastor's strength and God's provision.

But Salavat still faces daily threats. When asked his favorite verse he opened to the book of Job to the story of a man from the land of Uz - modern-day Uzebekistan. He pointed to Job 1:8 where God mentions his faithful servant and Salavat whispered, "I, too, want to be faithful to the Lord, just as Job was."

Pray for Pastor Salavat and his family. And then pray that God would make you (and me) as courageous and confident in God as this man.


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