As North America is waking up, I’m talking to a young woman at the World Assembly of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Krakow, Poland. We are in a group from several different countries.
Today, we read John 12:20-36 which includes “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
We talked around the table about our homelands—Croatia, Belgium, Zimbabwe, Serbia, Australia, the U.S., and two countries that cannot be mentioned because of security concerns. Together, we considered what it means for Christians today to “hate our lives,” to give them up to “take up our crosses” and follow a king who was killed on his.
The conversation went around about giving up our lives and “carrying our crosses.”
It’s standing up for Jesus and his ways. (Ukraine)
It’s giving up the superficial and materialistic. (Croatia)
It’s offering your full self to people, being real and vulnerable, accepting your lack of control. (Belgium)
It’s getting kicked out of your church for a desire to live out what you read in the Bible. (Zimbabwe)
It’s inviting young people to consider the cost of being a disciple of Jesus and still say yes. (Serbia)
It’s using your mind for excellence in your field to have a platform to serve others. (U.S.)
It’s not being very secret despite real dangers, but loving your neighbors in tangible, visible ways. (Nation A)
And then she spoke.
With wide, fierce, young eyes, she began in halting English.
Carrying the cross like Jesus is hard. When they arrested me and my husband. We separated by them. The man teased, ‘There are no problem with your faith. Maybe you had a dream or something, and you are confused. The problem is why you share that news with other peoples? You say, “OK, I don’t share Jesus any more.” Why don’t you say it? Then I let you go, free.’
At that time, God say to me, ‘If you don’t want to share this good news, if you don’t want to tell others about Jesus, you are not following me.’ I know what I do and don’t do, what I say and don’t say.
Yesterday, I visited the Auschwitz Nazi camp. It was horrible. Many die. I think of my friend—he’s in jail. Eight months.
God say to me, ‘When you have problem because friends are in cell, in a bad situation, I never leave you.’
When students in my country come to Christ, they know they will have problems. They will go to jail. They stand and follow Jesus. They know one day they will get a knock on their door. They will go to jail. But they still follow. They still tell other peoples.
God gives us power. There is a verse in the Bible about standing before the judges and do not worry what you say because the Spirit will tell you what to say. I know God cares for me in every hard situation. He will do work for me. People’s hearts are soft. But we have another problem. With that problem, God helps us.
Jail for women is terrible in my country. Nobody ever knows anything. It is a big fight in your mind. But we know God is with us every day, more in jail than outside.
When I was arrested, that man also say to me, ‘You know when I release you, no one will talk to you. They know the danger of you now, of talking to you now. You are now like death to them.’
And prayers are streaming down my face.