The other day I picked up a magazine focusing on the persecuted Church. The opening note contained an opinion that you cannot attend a seminar and train people to experience persecution, similarly to training someone for crisis and disaster. This got my attention.
To his point, to be captured and persecuted has to be completely overwhelming, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Nothing can really prepare you for this. In the end, enduring persecution requires deep faith, extravagant love, and a willingness to suffer for His name.
In the West, we know little of the high-cost others pay to follow Christ. However, that is beginning to change. Many felt the animosity and hostility growing toward Christians in the last few years. Psalm two describes this growing hatred of righteousness and desire to rid the earth of any trace of it.
How will we respond when this intensifies?
In 2011, The Lord spoke to me one day during a heavy thunderstorm. I was pacing my driveway in Kansas City as tornado sirens were blaring. I would do this occasionally to practice the presence of God in moments of uncertainty. I would see if I could hear His Voice during the storm. Suddenly the voice of the Lord came to me. He said, “Good job training people for tornadoes and hurricanes, but now I want you to start training people for persecution, terrorism, and theaters of war.” It sent me on a journey of reverse engineering training events that would produce those results.
This was NOT on my list of things I wanted to do. In any regard, I started studying terrorism and dove deeper into the unique dynamics of what the Church would endure in the latter days. I also discovered that Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13 described a time in history when natural disasters and wars would increase along with lawlessness and deception. This period would be followed by great persecution.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14
Jesus clearly states that in that context of crisis, a demonstration of God’s Kingdom will THEN and in THAT hour go forth into EVERY nation. Meaning, the Great Commission will be fulfilled in the context of crisis, persecution, lawlessness, deception, and a great falling away. A passion began to grow in my heart to see the Bride radiate now in the darkest of times.
We need all the training we can get to fulfill this Great Commission we’ve been given, especially considering the circumstances we will find ourselves in. The prophet Daniel declared in chapter 11 “that the people who know their God would do great exploits.” I was stunned to realize this would be in the context of the antichrist’s reign on the earth. This drove my passion deeper to see the Church thrive during uncertain times. Isaiah said, Great darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord shall arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
In 2011, I invited a guest speaker to Kansas City who had written a book on the antichrist. I was shocked to discover he was my neighbor and lived just across the way from me. The meeting packed out, and when we took the offering, it was six hundred and sixty-six dollars. He offered to share it with me, but “I said, I’m not touching a penny of that.” It was a humorous confirmation that we were on the right path. The Lord is coming back for a spotless bride, and we will see the greatest demonstrations of God’s glory, love, and power in the hour of extreme darkness and trial.
About 2-1/2 years after the Lord commissioned me that day in my driveway, my staff and I were praying. At the time, C.R.I. was based in Kona, Hawaii, and we partnered with Y.W.A.M. (Youth With a Mission). The focus of our prayer time was the unfolding genocide occurring in Syria. For years people have been asking me whether or not I would deploy and assist. I would give glib answers because I did not want to go. The genocide had reached a new height, and we were praying over the one million Children that had been displaced. The prayer meeting was dry, but suddenly I heard sniffles as I noticed the staff crying. Someone invited us to take our prayer meeting into the campus prayer room, where hundreds joined in with our prayers. The next day I got a phone call from a doctor who mentioned the crisis, and within weeks we had a team on the ground in Kurdistan. We didn’t realize that even a more significant crisis was about to erupt. The ISIS Crisis. About six weeks later, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing forced conversions, sex trafficking, and genocide arrived in the city our team was based. The event unfolding in front of us was unprecedented. The terror and the evil at this level had never been witnessed before. Nightly on prime-time television would air mass beheadings and executions.
For 2-1/2 years, we ran medical clinics, ministered in refugee camps, rescued trafficked women and children, and assisted the Peshmerga army on the front -lines as they fought off ISIS. It was not easy, but the gospel went forth in tremendous ways, and God’s love was made known through hundreds of our volunteers who sacrificed and risked so much. I am glad we took God’s word to heart and started incorporating specialized training for a few years leading up to this.
At the end of the day, we do not get to pick and choose when or what type of crisis comes; we live in the hour Jesus described as birth pangs, and it seems like these days, nothing is off the table. As these events come closer and closer together, they will also grow more intense.
Back in 2001, as I stood in the rubble at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11, I struggled to comprehend what was happening. The Lord spoke to me and said, “Sean, this is nothing compared to what you will see in your day in your lifetime.” The undertone was that this was just a dress rehearsal for the things to come. There will be a wide array of responses to what is coming. We can now determine how we will respond by how we live, spend our time, and prepare physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
In January of this year, the tyrannical leadership of Canada was making itself known with all sorts of oppressive laws and lock-dows. They were taking away freedoms and seizing bank accounts. Soon after, the war in Ukraine broke out. The Lord told me to take “good notes” because what was happening in Canada and Ukraine was coming here. Meanwhile, we ended up on the ground in Ukraine during the first week of the war; we’ve provided relief to widows and orphans, delivered food, built shelters, and provided combat trauma kits to front-line areas. We have had tremendous opportunities to demonstrate the gospel, and we are grateful that non of our workers have been captured or injured.
We are doing our best to translate what we are learning and integrate it into our training so that our volunteers are better equipped for the actual circumstances they might be facing. The way all Great Commission Christians are trained needs to incorporate preparation for the realities of what Jesus spoke in Matthew 24; otherwise, we are doing them a disservice. This goes for churches, ministry schools, bible colleges, and missions organizations.
The saying goes, “train like you fight and fight as you train. Unfortunately, I would love to think that we would all rise to the occasion when great trouble hits, but often it’s only to the highest level of our training.
Recently we held a training event for ministering in dangerous destinations and hostile environments. It included tactical trauma response for bomb-blast and mass shootings and S.E.R.E. Survival Escape and Resistance Training. Attendees learned how to adapt to high-stress situations and endure interrogation, including being hooded, detained, and waterboarded but all for the sake of being able to minister and be a part of a victorious church.
It was interesting as I flipped the opening comments in that magazine. They described a story of a group of missionaries who had just finished discipleship training and were captured, hooded, detained, and endured beatings and other forms of persecution. It was pretty similar to the scenario we just did at the training.
The night before I wrote this article, I got a call from someone who suddenly, by spontaneous utterance, said, “Sean, you are discipling the martyrs.” The words were heavy and made me weep.
9/11 caught us all by surprise and drastically changed our lives forever. God promised that in the last days, He would pour out His Spirit, and we would dream dreams and have visions (see Acts 2). One of the ways this will be useful is just like the prophet Agabus. He foretold a famine and gathered and mobilized relief before it happened.
Can you imagine the great demonstrations of love we would see if we knew what was coming and were ready with the resources to release God’s mercy and power?
Unlike the days leading up to 9/11, there is much more revelation about the hour we live and clarity about events coming. If we saw these warnings through a lens of love and less about self-preservation, we could step into the most effective missionary strategy The Church has ever seen.
Two years ago, my family and I moved to the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. Recently, we partnered in various ways with Morningstar Ministries. (As a side note, God is doing something new and powerful there.) Recently we held a Training followed by a Rapid Deployment to Hurricane Ian. The MorningStar Community was a tremendous help and support to the relief efforts in Florida.
Chris Reed, the now President of Morningstar, is walking in a new level of prophetic anointing that is doing just this. He is building on the foundation of what Rick Joyner laid for over 40 years and is training and raising a prophetic company that can discern the times and seasons, but they will also know what to do.
A billion soul harvest is coming, but it will be the most challenging of times. Many will be offended, love will grow cold, and men’s hearts will fail them with fear. However, it’s time to take courage; it’s time to get trained and have confidence that no matter what shakes next, it’s an opportunity for The Church to shine and for Jesus to reap the nations as His inheritance.
For more on understanding the cost of following Jesus, check out: