"Weary pilgrim, does the way seem long?..."
Dear Christian Friend,
Weary pilgrim, does the way seem long and the cross rugged? Remember, "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things God hath prepared for those that love Him. . . If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. . . Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the Crown of Life..."
We have just rejoiced celebrating the Resurrection. We toil on for so long, many feel, but let us remember that the Captain of our army already defeated old Satan, dethroned him, and put His nail scarred foot on Satan's neck, proclaiming His eternal sovereignty. We can by faith in Christ and His victory be victorious in every battle.
We wonder, though, why more people of the world do not see the risen Christ and His plan for peace. Fallen man is so prone to fight. He will suffer wounds, privation, and even death because of hate. Everyone can see it all over the world, yet the unsaved continue on blindly.
Why does not God show Himself more clearly and forcefully? God and His workings are everywhere, clear to all but the willfully blind. God has allowed man free will, but there is none so blind as he who will not see.
Some liberal skeptic friends asked the noted historian, Edmond Wilson, if he was becoming a Christian. "Why," they said, "it cannot even be proven that Jesus ever lived."
"Something happened there," he replied.
Something, indeed! Every student of history knows a movement started there that has influenced more dynamically the history of the world than any other man or event. Someone began the teachings, ethics, and ideals which began separating the heathen savagery of peoples into more civilized and cultured channels: the countries that have schools and hospitals practice charity, hold to ideals of decency and honesty, and base their laws and customs on the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.
God has sent many of His servants to teach erring man of God's way for man. When they rejected them all, He finally sent His own Son, who worked every miracle imaginable to prove He was really God's Son; Him, man enslaved to his sinful ways, crucified. The self deceived and willfully blind could not see God nor His handiwork, when they looked right at it.
We cannot prove theology to anyone who does not want to be saved. So, this world is doomed. We are not out to save the world.
But, Praise the Lord, there are still precious individual souls everywhere that are receiving the Gospel with joy and appreciation. I hear that the great tide of increase in the Evangelical Church is continuing unabated even as it is in Guatemala.
Many countries of South America are still in need of consecrated missionaries with old time consecration. Missionaries in former times expected to live among the poor and undergo all kinds of discomforts and hardships. Nowadays too many so called missionaries are living among the well-to-do in the American colony while trying to preach the gospel of the Bible to the poor.
Too many are luxury loving, but not all. There are still those who live among the poor and direct every possible dollar to helping the poor, helping them spiritually and materially.
Thank the Lord, there are still humble disciples like the Disciples of the New Testament church, who live among the poor, suffer persecutions and privations in order to bring the Gospel to the poor, helping them spiritually and materially.
Easter Week is called Semana Santa in these lands. Old Antiqua is the center for religious ceremony here. There are processions day and night with heavy platforms holding statues of Jesus and Mary and the various saints, borne by perhaps fifty sweating, swaying men who pay for the privilege of atoning for their sins. Any faithful householder can make an elaborate design of flower petals and colored sawdust as though a carpet were in the street before their houses. As the processions wipe it all away that household has its sins wiped away for another season. At night there are old fashioned torches and incense until the heavy smoke and perfume is a drug to the senses with a slow steady Indian drum adding its hypnotic effects. At the conclusion of the processional the participants retire to the taverns to celebrate, continuing until nearly dawn when they try to find their way home, but often do not, the dawn lights showing bodies on every sidewalk sleeping off the religious celebration.
Let me explain that this is the way it used to be. Since the Gospel has been preached so extensively for many years by tracts, open air preaching, evangelical churches opened, and radio programs explaining the Bible at all hours, many, many changes have come to Guatemala. Semana Santa still has its processions, but the general attitude is more of a parade and historical form than taking its penance in utter seriousness. The excess drinking and other rampant sinning is markedly reduced.
It costs great sacrifice and some actual lives to open up Guatemala to the Gospel, but now many are returning rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them. May the Lord bless you faithful ones who have had faithful parts in these battles with both prayer support and material support.
Some international reporters said on short wave recently that their studies have shown that Islam or Mohammedism is much more on the rise than the West was aware and that there is a spirit being reactivated that had not been seen with them for centuries. Islam controls large parts of Africa, most of the Mid-east and Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, some states of India, Afghanistan, and some western sections of China, and, what most Americans are unaware of, several major states in Russia. The Kremlin at times seems more fearful, it was found, of the new Islamic fundamentalism fomented by Iran, causing an internal breakout in Russia, than external threats from the U.S.
The Bible student recalls that when the fifth angel sounded his trumpet a swarm of locusts rose from the bottomless pit to scourge the earth. Dr. W. B. Godbey and other commentaries have said this represented the rise of Islam and its spread by the sword and fanatical zeal over that part of the earth. They actually flooded over into Europe bent on crushing Christianity completely in the Middle Ages, but an army under Charles Martel turned them back, doubtless under the plan and help of God.
My present thought is, that since so many prophecies have multiple fulfillment, Islam may be on the verge of another great scourging of the earth with their combined attack of religious zeal and policy to combine it with every kind of warfare and terrorism. The Jews are prophetically destined to expand their area of influence, and doubtless their ancient enemies and kindred in Esau and Ishmael, are set to resist causing serious trouble all over the world wherever there is a country that has a Jewish population.
Thus we see more of Bible prophecies being fulfilled. The future would seem tragically gloomy except we continually recall that the Lord says to His Children, "When ye see all these signs coming to pass, LOOK UP AND REJOICE for your Redemption draweth nigh."