The third Monday of January is Martin Luther King, Jr Day! The United States celebrates the phenomenal accomplishments of this Baptist minister, activist and prominent leader in the African American Civil Rights movement. Though a very controversial figure, King did make a powerful and lasting impact upon America, receiving over 50 honorary degrees and a multitude of very distinguished awards, such as the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
People living in the most impoverished countries most often have no “Martin Luther King” counterpart to defend their civil rights. In fact, the civil rights of native Christians in these countries are more often than not seriously disrespected. Those of us with Praise International desire to encourage such Christians. The national pastors are often put into a place where they risk their lives while shepherding their flocks.
I was extremely touched last week when I read a letter from Pastor Daniel Coulibaly in Mali. He wrote this letter as a form of thank you to Praise International and to his individual sponsors. I translated his French letter and I’d like to give you a brief summary of his message:
Pastor Coulibaly notes that the news we hear on radio, TV, or on the Internet is principally bad news. He lists many specific horrible events, involving killings and events that cause great dangers for innocent people, but particularly for Christians. He says that these events point to the end times.
I was impacted as I read three challenges that he gives all of us:
- Make sure that you’re saved, living in the Joy of the Lord and not in the anxiety and anguish that is invading more and more the thoughts and feeling of people from every nation.
- Be ready to die for the name of Christ at any time. This challenge hit me hard. I feel that I am ready to live for the Lord, but am I truly ready to die for Him? Christians are very visible and vulnerable to attacks from the devil.
- Don’t let any threat whatsoever turn you away from your vital mission to be Christ’s witnesses. Coulibaly made reference to Matthew 16: 16-18. When Peter says to Jesus that he is Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Jesus told his disciples that He will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Couilibaly insists that if the great commission is be accomplished in Mali and to the ends of the earth, it will be done by those who choose to be faithful servants of this Messiah, Son of the Living God.
Isn’t this an Powerful challenge? It shows me the extent of his love for the Lord, devotion in serving him whatever the cost, fearless in the face of danger and persevering and progressing in the valley of the shadow of death. It’s quite obvious, from Pastor Coulibaly’s letter, that he is not concerned with his civil rights. His concern is that Christian remain firm in the Lord and persevere in preaching the good news. Martin Luther King, Jr. died for the cause of civil rights for African Americans. Pastor Coulibaly’s challenge to us is somthing we should serious consider: are we willing to live for Christ and to die for Him, for the sake of Christ’s marching orders: go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation?
Please pray for Pastor Coulibaly in his ministry. Pray for Christians in Mali and all of the pastors who give new meaning to the word sacrifice, preaching, training, and lead Malians.