Courage

We often hear how brethren, especially officers, mention the Executive Minister BOLDLY preaches the words of God. Boldness, or let’s say courage is defined as:

COURAGE – noun
– the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery: she called on all her courage to face the ordeal.
– strength in the face of pain or grief: he fought his illness with great courage.

Examples given by the Dictionary are:
1. “have the courage of one’s convictions  
2. “act on one’s beliefs despite danger or disapproval.”

Being able to act on one’s belief despite danger or disapproval. I saw that last weekend. Not, sad to say, from the One I expected but from those who were expelled. They went to the vigil knowing full well that there were many more brethren inside the church compound. They were truly outnumbered. Some ministers mocked, “that’s all they have?” The church had security guards, SCAN, dogs, snipers, guns and very large and angry people. Compared to the number of brethren who were there, the expelled were just a handful and could have easily been overpowered. But there they were standing with their signs knowing that they would anger many people. THAT is courage.

It is easy to say that one is brave when we are surrounded by friends. It’s easy to say we will boldly sacrifice when we are secure in our situation. But real courage is when you are not surrounded by loving people but by those opposed to you, by those angry with you. How do you show courage when you have the advantage in number? Courage is when there is trouble and you are willing to face it and not run away from it, regardless of the outcome.

It does not mean you don’t get scared, that is a natural reaction. When our heart is racing, sweat is trickling down, and our nerves are threatening to freeze our body or make it run the other way, and yet, you still stand firm – that is courage. The best example, as always is Jesus Christ who knew He was going to be persecuted and crucified. He cried out in prayer because of the pain he anticipated but still went through it to do the “will of God”.

Brother Felix Manalo had courage. He faced the entire world. There were no bodyguards or helicopters to lift him away. He simply trusted in God and His promise: “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west…”

I’m sure there were times ka Felix was fearful of the danger, like any other sensible human being would; there were immense religions who opposed him, Japanese military forces hunting him down and numerous persecutors, and yet, he faced them all. How do we know this? We are here aren’t we? If it was not for the courage of that one humble and courageous man, facing the odds, we would not be here today in the Church of Christ.

You may say that the expelled are wrong. Nevertheless, they stand there facing the large throng of protective brethren who are trying to shelter the beloved leader, I ask you, is this not courage? Whether you agree with them or not, they are there, in all boldness, standing up for what they believe is right and true. They refuse to back down and even when the Church attendees got more physical, they stood there and held on to their convictions. So I ask you, who are those with Christian beliefs? Those who showed anger? Those who ran? Or those who stood their ground despite opposition and being outnumbered? They hold to the words of God:
“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Trying to outshout the “Defenders” or shoving them does not make us brave, it does not make us better Christians. It is truly having understanding and upholding it – that is a true follower of Christ with courage.

What hurts to hear is when these courageous people standing up for what they believe to be true, are called “Terrorists”. Terrorists are people who advocate violence and oppression. These are simple people who were in the church, some of them for many years, serving God. For whatever reasons, they were expelled. If they did not believe this is the true church, they could simply walk away and say, “oh well, who cares”. But they choose to remain and fight for what they believe is right and true. They strive to preserve what they have learned. They see the changes. They study the differences. They fight for their faith.

Some may say that aren’t they cowards for wearing masks? No, that is the only protection they have from the continuous harassment they and their families would receive if they revealed their identities. Look at what they have done to others already. The wearing of masks is no different from those brethren who courageously hold Worship Services despite being in countries they are forbidden. They are surrounded by a country full of religious fanatics who would chop off their heads it they were discovered. Are they not also courageous? But they are also in forms of disguise, are they not?

That is why I applaud those brethren who, despite the pressure and harassment of others, stand up for what they have learned and know to be true. Just like those early servants who were persecuted, Job, David and Daniel, they remained despite oppression and painful words from the very people they knew. Just like the early servants, the courage of these brethren, will make them worthy before God.

I wish we could see that kind of courage from the leaders who know “the truth”.

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