You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.

I invite you to join the journey with me. I do not claim to have all the answers. If anything, I have more questions than answers. But if Jesus is who he said he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus.

Puddles of Tears

Imagine all the blinds closed on the windows of a dimly lit room. Twenty leaders from different churches in the area sat in a circle on the floor with their Bibles open. Some of them had sweat on their foreheads after walking for miles to get there. Others were dirty from the dust in the villages fromwhich they had set out on bikes early that morning.

They had gathered in secret.They had intentionally come to this place at different times throughout the morning so as not to draw attention to themeeting that was occurring.They lived in a country in Asia where it is illegal for them to gather like this. If caught, they could lose their land, their jobs, their families, or their lives.

I listened as they began sharing stories of what God was doing in their churches. One man sat in the corner. He had a strong frame, and he served as the head of security, so to speak.Whenever a knock was heard at the door or a noise was made outside the window, everyone in the room would freeze in tension as this brother would go to make sure everything was okay. As he spoke, his tough appearance soon revealed a tender heart.

"Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult," he said. This particular cult is known for kidnapping believers, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them. Brothers and sisters having their tongues cut out of their mouths is not uncommon.

As he shared about the dangers his church members were facing, tears welled up in his eyes. "I am hurting," he said, "and I need God's grace to lead my church through these attacks."

A woman on the other side of the roomspoke up next. "Some of the members in my church were recently confronted by government officials." She continued, "They threatened their families, saying that if they did not stop gathering to study the Bible, they were going to lose everything they had." She asked for prayer, saying, "I need to know how to lead my church to follow Christ even when it costs them everything."

As I looked around the room, I saw that everyone was now in tears. The struggles expressed by this brother and sister were not isolated. They all looked at one another and said, "We need to pray." Immediately they went to their knees, and with their faces on the ground, they began to cry out to God. Their prayers were marked less by grandiose theological language andmore by heartfelt praise and pleading.

"O God, thank you for loving us."

"O God, we need you."

"Jesus, we give our lives to you and for you."

"Jesus, we trust in you."

They audibly wept before God as one leader after another prayed. After about an hour, the roomdrew to a silence, and they rose from the floor. Humbled by what I had just been a part of, I saw puddles of tears in a circle around the room.

In the days since then, God has granted me many other opportunities to gather with believers in underground house churches in Asia.Men and women there are risking everything to follow Christ.

Men like Jian, an Asian doctor who left his successful health clinic and now risks his life and the lives of his wife and two kids in order to provide impoverished villages with medical care while secretly training an entire network of house-church leaders.