Living for Christ might lead to dying for a cause. While we were on our way home from our MM mission trip, I heard the news that Shahbaz Bhatti had been killed. Mr. Bhatti was the Minister for Minority Affairs in Pakistan, and a Christian. He was killed in Islamabad on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. The reason for his assassination? He opposed the Pakistani blasphemy laws that appoint the death sentence for one who speaks words against the truth of Mohammed. In a video, posted online by the European group First Step Forum, Mr Bhatti said: “I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. . . . I’m ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights.”
He did, and died a hero, but it’s not so much the dying for a cause that is heroic, it’s living for a cause regardless of the consequences. Mr. Bhatti did not choose death. He chose Christ. No matter what. True heroes are not formed in death. They may finally be recognized in their deaths, but they are shaped as they live for a cause, shaped as they live for people, regardless of the cost.
I think this is one of the reasons we are honored to partner with our fellow Christians in MM. They are willing to live for the cause of Christ, regardless of the cost. Last week I talked to one man who gave up a good paying job — a rarity in MM, where the average daily wage is about a dollar and a half — to follow Christ. I spoke to Bible School students who have given up their families to follow Christ. (As in, “If you go to a Christian school you will no longer be my son.”) We prayed with a man who sobbed as he asked us to pray for his daughter. She had become a Jesus-follower and wanted to be baptized, but there are people in her village who have told her, “If you get baptized we will kill you.” His main request was not for his daughter’s safety, but for his daughter’s courage. I ate dinner in the home of the lady who started the orphanage, no long after it was started, both her husband and her infant son died from malaria. She didn’t quit, willing to live for Christ, regardless of the cost.
Paul once said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Unfortunately too many of us believe, “For me to live is gain and to die is Christ.”