I heard a story once about a man I consider to be a great hero of the faith, a man who was imprisoned and tortured for preaching the Gospel. At one point in more than 15 periods of imprisonment, he had a metal rod drilled through his calves, and he was hung upside down for extended periods of time, while being tortured in other, equally inhumane ways.
This story didn’t happen in ancient times; it happened in my lifetime, to a dear friend of mine who has planted churches throughout North Africa. While in captivity, my friend—whom I’ll call Mulu—endured intense persecution in an attempt to make him recant his faith in Jesus Christ. His captors used electrocution, cattle prods, drills, whipping rods, and starvation.
Mulu was following the most significant mandate ever given, the one we know as the Great Commission: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21b).
Mulu’s obedience and his endurance of persecution, torture, and humiliation—all for the sake of the One whose mandate he was following—has resulted in the planting of many churches in the region, and many coming to Christ. Mulu has even returned to the places of his imprisonment, extending his personal forgiveness and God’s love to his captors, some of whom came to Christ as a result.
Mulu understood how Jesus accomplished so much in His time on Earth, and he followed His Savior’s example. So must we. Through understanding how Jesus pursued His own commission—a personal mandate from His Father—we are given the key to understanding how we might fulfill our own commission: the Greatest one in history.
The how of the Great Commission, then, can found in the mandate itself:
- As Jesus went, go.
- As Jesus acted, act.
- As Jesus spoke, speak.
- As Jesus cared, care.
- As Jesus responded, respond.
- As Jesus thought, think.
- As Jesus loved, love.
This is the model that Jesus established for each of us, to be witnesses to our families, our workplaces, our communities, and our world.