I feel incredibly blessed. These past experiences intensify my sense of blessing: living in a third world country; visiting eastern European countries; enduring stressful times; and helping those who think they have no hope find hope. I often think that I know how to appreciate my blessings.

Then facts and situations prove that my blessings blind me. I realize this world is evil, but never do I comprehend how evil it is. The April, 1997 edition of Family News published by Focus on the Family was chilling. In 1996 an estimated 160,000 people were killed for this offense: they believed in Jesus Christ. It is estimated that more people have died this century for believing in Jesus than died in the previous nineteen centuries combined. For example, in Sudan, where people first believed in Jesus in the 6th century, women are systematically raped, executions by crucifixion occur, and women and children are sold into slavery. Some are branded or mutilated to permanently "mark" them, some are tortured, and some starved. Why? They believe in Jesus.

Believing in Jesus can cost a person his or her well being, property, or life if he or she lives under an aggressive communist regime or a fundamentalist Islamic regime. Assembling is dangerous. Communicating with foreigners is dangerous.

We Americans feel like we are such a huge part of the world. We are in fact such a small part of it. Americans are just over five percent of earth's population. For every American there are nineteen people of other nationalities. America's problems are very real. But our problems do not compare to the problems of the poor, the struggling, and the oppressed in the rest of the world.

Honest awareness of the plight and suffering worldwide of those who believe in Jesus should motivate us to maximize our incredible opportunities. Even if we live long lives, we still have little time to allow God to work His purposes through us.

May we allow God to remove the blindness created by our blessings. Instead of living for the convenience of the presence, may we learn to live for eternal realities.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 11 May 1997

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