He had traveled to another city to preach and worship on Christmas day with fellow believers. Instead, Pastor Smith was arrested and taken to prison.
Pastor Smith is not his real name. He lives in an area of the world where being a Christian puts him at risk.
“Pastor Smith had been assured that all the necessary notifications and paperwork had been completed prior to the planned worship services,” explained a Lutheran Bible Translators’ (LBT) missionary who served with Pastor Smith. “But something obviously went wrong.” So wrong, Pastor Smith found himself in a jail cell on Christmas Eve.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to have to carefully obtain permission to gather with fellow Christians to worship. Having to complete multiple documents approved by various individuals—and then still face the risk of arrest—would certainly be a deterrent for any group of believers. Yet worship does occur among Pastor Smith’s language community and people come to faith, eager to learn and share about Jesus.
Pastor Smith was understandably despondent that night. His plan to share a Christmas message with fellow believers was now impossible. But as he later told his Christian colleagues, as he sat in his jail cell, he realized he was actually better off than Christ was on the night of His birth. Born in a humble stable into a world that would doubt Him, ridicule and persecute Him, Jesus was never deterred from sharing God’s Word, no matter the circumstances. Recognizing his imprisonment was actually an opportunity, Pastor Smith spoke to his jailers about the wonderful gift of God’s Son.
Released after a short incarceration, Pastor Smith continued to preach among his people. But all across the world, millions of people still hunger for Scripture in a language they understand. Some face the same difficult circumstances as Pastor Smith and his fellow Christians.
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior and begin a new year, take this opportunity to share the Good News with those who have not yet learned about Jesus Christ. Click here for more information about LBT missionaries and projects.