“Lord, Give Me Back My Mouth!”

Posted on March 31, 2019

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By David Ettinger

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One-Track Mind
While listening to Voice of the Martyrs radio recently, I heard an extraordinary account of faith and devotion which gave me goosebumps.

In the South Asian nation of Bangladesh, where Christian persecution is severe, Pastor Steven had been warned several times by Muslim extremists to cease preaching the Gospel. Though he knew the threats were real, Pastor Steven had a one-track mind; he lived for but one thing: to preach the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One day as Pastor Steven was riding his bicycle, he was ambushed by a group of fanatics and thrown to the ground. Within seconds his foes efficiently spewed their wrath upon the unarmed preacher. They shot him in the jaw, slit his throat, and stabbed him 11 times. Miraculously, Pastor Steven was still alive. As he lay wallowing in his blood, he prayed. Surprisingly, he did not ask the Lord to spare his life. Rather, he prayed these words: “Lord, give me back my mouth.”

You see, Pastor Steven was asking God to allow him to go on preaching. The bullet through the jaw damaged his mouth, and Pastor Steven was concerned that if he lived, he would not be able to speak. To him, losing the ability to preach the Gospel was akin to death. Now that’s a one-track mind!

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Reminiscent of Another Great Preacher
Pastor Steven, who did recover his speech, reminds me of another great preacher who was threatened often, but refused to cease procliaming the Gospel. In comparing himself to the “super apostles” the Corinthians were embracing, Paul said this:

I have … been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

And that’s not even the most extraordinary part. Despite all of these hardships, Paul was still able to assert: “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (2 Corinthians 9:16). Like Pastor Steven, Paul had a one-track mind. He was created to preach the Gospel, and I can well imagine him, following one of his severe beatings, especially if he hadn’t the strength to speak, praying similarly to Pastor Steven: “Lord, give me back my mouth.”

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A Great Example for Us
Both Paul and Pastor Steven felt “compelled” to do the thing they were created to do, and this despite vicious opposition. In the same way, God created you and me for a very specific purpose. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10: “For you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We may not be called to preach the Gospel in hostile areas, but all believers are to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness, into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Your calling may be to teach Sunday school, deliver meals to the needy, drive the elderly to doctor appointments, run a sound system at church, or simply show kindness to the strange neighbor everyone dislikes.

Once you determine what it is God would have you do, I believe the Lord would have you do it faithfully, without compromise, and with a sense of being compelled, as were Paul and Pastor Steven. Pray for God to give you the resolve to say, “Woe to me if I do not (fill in the blank).” Ask God to give you a one-track mind for Him and His kingdom, that you may do that for which you were created, and to do it with fervency and conviction.

And if you should ever be hindered in your kingdom work by persecution, fear, illness, or doubt, then take a page out of Pastor Steve’s book and pray, “Lord, give me back my hunger and ability to serve you with all of my heart, soul, and desire. Help me to be a Paul and a Pastor Steven!”

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