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FIRST-PERSON: 2 conversations

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (BP) — Meet Derek and Cynda, wealthy Chicago couple, pillars of Windy City society — he, a successful senior VP of a thriving corporation; she, a dutiful wife; proud parents of one grown son, Jared, privileged and bred for business savvy.

Both genuinely saved at an early age, Derek and Cynda met at a Christian college and married soon after graduate school. But the years passed and their lives together somehow came to reflect an “I’ll do it if it benefits me” approach to life — and their faith.


Meet Khalid, an Indonesian rice farmer with a wife and four children. Saved only a year ago, emerging from an atheism he had kept to himself, his Muslim wife Liana and four children soon came to faith in Christ because of his godly example and the patient work of other believers.

Khalid loved the Lord Jesus with the kind of fervor common among newfound believers. But now he suddenly finds himself hiding from persecutors, alone and cowering in fear, somewhere in the Sumatran rainforest near the sloped shores of Lake Toba.


Let’s listen in on Derek and Cynda’s brief conversation this evening, the night before the luncheon where Derek is to receive yet another accolade for last quarter’s considerable profit margins.

And, as deep darkness falls, let’s attend to Khalid’s prayers during this, his time of greatest testing.


“Cyn, tomorrow night we’ll celebrate. I’ve already made reservations at Moto’s for 7. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Think I’ll have the salmon with carrot vinaigrette this time. Some rosé wine, too. What about you?”

“I’ll decide when we get there, hon.”

“K. Let’s take the Jag just for fun.”


“O God, I’m so hungry … so weak. The villagers don’t dare help me, and stealing their chickens means they can’t feed their families. Just a handful of rice tomorrow, a little water from the lake, Lord, that’s all I need. Please keep the Laskar Jihad away from here. You know what they’ll do if they catch me. Your will, Lord Jesus, only Your will!”


“They’re supposed to finish remodeling the guest bath tomorrow, dear.”

“Let’s hope so. Time is money, they say. The importing is sure costing us.”

“But it’s gorgeous, the Italian white carrera especially.”

“Post some Facebook pictures. Everybody needs to see. We’ll redo the kitchen next … maybe the vacay condo, too!”


“Father, my precious Liana! Where is she? The kids!? Did they get away? I don’t care if our home’s gone … if only I could hold them one more time. Their shocked faces … it’s killing me … they didn’t know what was happening. Mercy and grace, Lord, let them call out for Your mercy and grace wherever they are! O, my rock and fortress, in You they must trust.”


“Derek, something’s bothering me.”

“What’s that?”

“Remember back when we’d pray, you know, pray together?”

“Where’re we going with this, Cyn?”

“I’m thinking Jared’s not doing as well as he says. He’s so inward lately. Something’s just not right. I feel we need to pray for him, that he needs help.”

“Oh, he’ll be alright. It’s just a phase. We’ve taught him well. Don’t you remember those five straight Sundays at church? God knows we’ve done our part. Just pray while you go to sleep. Let’s call it a day, huh?”

“K, goodnight.”


“Watch over us tonight, my Sovereign. I know Liana is praying. I feel it.”


Despite his distress and suffering, Khalid drifts off to sleep under a canopy of palm fronds, baffled but content with God’s dealings….

Shuffling feet. Pale light. The scrape of drawn machetes. Awake now, he knew. The Laskar had found him. Dragged to a clearing. Tight ropes strapping wrists and ankles. Painfully stretched with stakes like a cross.

Four men. Four machetes. Four decisive strikes to his body in quick succession….

Incredibly, no screams of pain leave Khalid’s lips. There’s only time for one last prayer, loud enough for his assassins to hear, “Lord Jesus, take me home. I love You!”


One couple still alive the next morning, but killed off long ago by the deceit and vanity of wealth’s pretensions….


Another murdered at sunrise by evil men, crazed and wielding the sword of terror….

The question is simple yet profound: When we stand before the Lord, how will Kingdom faithfulness be measured? How faithful will our lives be found?

    About the Author

  • Hal Ostrander