Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of giving a talk on the fourth challenge of discipleship, “Take Up Your Cross.” When I woke up that morning, I had not slept well, and I was feeling a bit off. I had no appetite at all, and the thought of another breakfast of curried dal—sort of a thick curry flavored lentil soup—just didn’t seem like a good idea, so I decided to rest through breakfast. Well that hour came and went, and I felt no better. I ended up resting all day and trying to rehydrate myself. By the time it was my turn to speak, I felt a little better.

As it turns out, in the meeting immediately before my talk, various area leaders had given brief reports on their work. Invariably, as they talked about how many converts or baptisms they had seen, someone in the group would ask them about what sort of opposition they had experienced. Each one reported having been physically attacked and beaten on various occasions as a consequence of sharing the good news of the love of Christ.

And here I was to give a talk on the subject “Take Up Your Cross,” about how adopting God’s plan for our lives leads to suffering for the sake of others. Suddenly, my little jet-lag dehydration sickness and the hard bed I had to sleep on didn’t seem like such a big deal. Obviously, these men have much more experience with crosses than I do. I can only hope that sharing these scriptures can encourage them to remain faithful to their calling.

Hebrews 10:32-35 says, “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”

These workers are frequently “being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations.” We must do our part, “becoming sharers with those who are so treated.” Pray for these and other persecuted Christians around the world.