Sorrow & Blood: Christian Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Persecution, and Martyrdom
Editors: William D. Taylor, Antonia van der Meer, Reg Reimer
I’m currently reading Sorrow & Blood: Christian Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Persecution, and Martyrdom and it is probably one of the best purchases I’ve made this year.
Sorrow and Blood is a global, biblical, historical, theological, and missional treatment of the the subject of Christian suffering in the world today. I compiles essays and articles from over sixty authors ranging from missionaries, to missionary organizations, historians, theologians, and pastors all talking about their thoughts on this very important subject.
I will be blogging more about this excellent resource, but allow me to share two things I’ve learned thus far already.
1. The church needs a deep and profound theology on suffering, persecution, and martyrdom if it is survive, thrive, and bear fruit in such contexts.
One author writes that if the church is not prepared theologically for the possibility of suffering for Jesus, there is a high chance that it will not survive. In particular, he notes that there is a high chance that it will become a “stone throwing church”, where when getting stones thrown at them, they will, in their human response, pick up stones and throw stones back.
Such is the story that is happening in religious conflict zones such as Nigeria or Sudan, where guns, knives, and bombs are expressive ways of saying, “Our God is bigger than your god.”
Obviously, such a response is different than the way the biblical literature instructs us to respond. But without the development of deep biblical understandings of suffering, persecution, and martyrdom, there will be a high chance that the church will not be ready. So long story short–get our theology on this issue developed before persecution comes to us.
2. The American church is far from ready to engage in the suffering, persecution, and martyrdom context.
There’s a missing lens when most Americans read the Bible and that is reading the Bible through the lens of persecution. When the apostles describe how they’ve suffered for Jesus, and when they write letters, and tell stories out of that context, we are blind to understanding because we have no experience to help us understand.
It is my observation that most American churches lack any sort of teaching on suffering for God. We are more likely formed by American ideals of “rights”, where our “right” for such and such supersedes our calling to suffer for the gospel, as Paul in Phil 1:29, says we are to do.
It is hard to find a church which sends out mission trips regularly to places where danger and hostility are the norm. We have distanced the terms “missions trip” and “danger”, when in fact those words were very closely linked together in the biblical literature.
This distance reflects some of the sentiments of the writers of this great volume, whose authors offer international experience and perspective.
If you want to be challenged biblically, historically, theologically, and missionally, I highly recommend you checking this book out.