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I have spent the last 6 months elk hunting with true American heroes. It is such an honor and a privilege for me to hang out with men who have sacrificed so much for our country. I am always amazed at the selfless sacrifice to serve exhibited by these wounded military veterans. I am humbled when I hear from them that they would do it again. We idolize sports figures and call them heroes, but men and women who lay their life on the line and suffer injury for our country are true heroes. I am humbled when I talk to these warriors who have lost limbs or have suffered traumatic brain injury yet quickly and surely state they would do it again.

We are currently observing some true heroes of spiritual warfare serving above and beyond what few can even imagine. Let me introduce you to Larry and Steven (names changed to protect their identity) These men serve in a country where persecution is current and frequent. They have experienced it. Yet there is no back up in them. There are many more like them, but I want to tell you of these two.

Larry was born a Muslim. He was raised in a Muslim family. He came to know Jes-~s as his savior at age 14. He was introduced to J-$us by some friends, not by a church, or a pastor, but friends. When he committed his life to J€#~us his parents beat him. The parents beat their 14 year old boy because he choose to follow J€#$us. I asked Larry if the beating discouraged him from following J€$#s. Larry responded, “No, it encouraged me.” Would I have been encouraged to be beaten? Would I have understood as a young Ch^*?tian the words of Matthew chapter 3, Blessed are those who are persecuted. I know that folks in America have no clue what it takes to have this type of hero character.

and Steven, Steven is a man of more than 60 years who drove a cab in Calcutta for more than 40 years. He still refers to himself as Muslim. When I first met Steven 5 years ago he was pastoring 3 Ch£!$tian churches. Yes working full time and serving 3 churches. On Sunday we attended the Kolkatta Christian Fellowship. After service our team and several of the local folks who work for “the company” went to a mall and ate lunch at an American restaurant here in Kolkatta. We noticed Steven, who is driving for our team this trip, was not around. This is not unusual as Steven often drops us off and goes to park or do his own thing always returning to pick us up right on time and at the right place. We finished and headed down to the basement car park where we found Steven. When I asked if he had lunch and what he had been doing he responded, ” I had lunch and then lead that guy (pointing to an attendant) to Ch£!st. Steven was as excited as if he had shot a huge bull elk – he lead a man to know his Saviour while I was having dessert & celebrating the one year anniversary of some of the company employees. What a hero. One who is focused on the mission.

Our lesson on Sunday was about missions. I am told every sermon should both challenge and encourage. The pastor spoke on the need to give of our time, get out of our comfort zone & go serve. I left encouraged and a bit proud. It took Steven about 5 minutes to remind me that missions are where we are, next door, at the oil change place, with our friends – to challenge me. Let me challenge and encourage you who live in a place with no real danger of persecution to match the work of these two men who face the very real danger every day of real and serious persecution.  mike

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