I heard from my dear friends recently about life in a remote village in West Africa. I’ll keep the details confidential so I don’t endanger anyone’s life. The village is a collection of single-room mud homes. The region is not far from Timbuktu—the place at the end of the earth where my mother threatened to send me if I didn’t shape up.

What is the climate of the Christian Church in that barren and far-away land? My friend commented:

“In addition to various attacks and ethnic in-fighting in other parts of the country, two villages were attacked and about a dozen people killed in each town. Also, attackers came to the village again and killed two people this time. Not only that, but the village now (because of numerous attacks there in the last year) has been destroyed.”

“The open market which has been not only a place of buying and selling, but of gathering and relating—a social institution in most African villages—has been ‘destroyed’ in the sense that the boutiques have been closed and no one goes to the market because of the threats and the fear of being attacked. Parts of both the elementary and middle schools in the village have been burned. That along with threats made to school teachers and the director have kept children from attending school for months. Many, many people have left the village.”

My friends asked for prayer, “that Jesus’ Light will shine through His people and even grow brighter and brighter in the growing darkness. Darkness cannot overcome the Light of Christ.”

When my family and I were there, we gathered with a handful of followers of Christ. There were, perhaps, thirty or forty believers in a region of over 300,000 people. New outreach was beginning to make headway. Satan is fighting it every step of the way.

The message from my friends was sobering. What does it mean for us?

First, we are called to pray for our fellow believers around the world as they suffer—even to the point of death—for their faith in Jesus.

Second, we are stewards of God’s gifts. As the Apostle Paul noted: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 We need to work while it is day. There is no time for complacency or distraction. It is time to bring the Gospel to as many people as possible. We have been blessed with a context that allows it, resources that undergird it, and the Word of God that brings hearts to life.

The worldwide church is a sobering reminder of our calling right here in Texas. Let us be unwavering in our work together to share the Good News of Jesus crucified, risen, ascended and returning!

By Rev. Michael Newman