“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12).
These verses from the Book of Matthew, included in Jesus’ counter-cultural challenge to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, are some of the most beloved by the persecuted Church. This comes as no surprise as these Beatitudes are refreshment to souls who are reviled and against whom evil is spoken. The Haggai leaders in the places you can read about in our Summer Impact magazine — whose names must be changed, identities hidden, or nations veiled for their protection — know what it’s like to speak in code. They know what it’s like to be watched. They know what it’s like for their government to shut down churches. And they know what it’s like to be second-class citizens, all for the sake of saying “yes” to Jesus.
Yet, they are unstoppable witnesses. Vulnerable? Yes. Fearful? Sometimes. Silenced? Not yet. They are fathers and mothers, businessmen and women, government leaders and entrepreneurs. Just as you and I have a responsibility to the people whom God has placed in our spheres of influence, they are in turn strategically placed in some of the toughest settings to be a Christian.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells his disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Thousands of Haggai leaders have taken the risk to attend an in-person or Virtual Haggai Leader Experience. They’ve come away changed and emboldened, and they challenge us in their vulnerable witness. One leader told us recently that the most impactful part of her equipping was spending time with other leaders from different nations who were risking it all for Jesus. She said God used this experience to shake her out of her comfort zone. These leaders show us how to take the light of Christ from under our baskets and become sheep in the midst of wolves – “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
As you read the stories, you will learn about the stark reality facing the men and women you support. I hope you experience God’s goodness, grace, and protection through it all. These leaders are engaged in holistic witness for the Gospel, and we need more men and women like these Haggai leaders, engaged in holistic witness, to accelerate ending Gospel poverty. Only through your partnership will this possibility become a reality.
For the Gospel,
Dr. Bev Williams
CEO, Haggai International