When I wonder if the Christian faith can stand up to any challenge and change any life, I think about a twelve-year-old boy I met during my summer missions experience in 1979.
Before I flew into Malaysia to begin my work there, I was given a week of training with career missionaries in Singapore.
One evening, as I was talking with two of these missionaries, a young boy happened to walk by. A missionary called him over and introduced him to me. He shyly shook my hand and ran off to play with his friends. Then the missionary told me his story.
This boy had come to faith in Christ during a Bible study the church conducted in his nearby apartment building. He very quickly became passionate about his Lord. He never missed a worship service on Sunday or Wednesday. He read his Bible and prayed fervently. He became a great witness to others in his community.
Soon, the missionaries began to notice bruises and welts on the young boy's body. One day they took his arm, examined the marks there, and asked him what was wrong. The boy looked sheepishly at the ground, then answered truthfully: "My daddy is not a Christian, and when I come home from church, he beats me for worshiping Jesus."
The missionary was shocked and asked the boy why he continued coming to church. The boy was equally surprised by the question. Looking up at the adult, he said, "But Jesus said in the Bible that we were supposed to go to church."
The missionary, mindful of many converts who had been forced from their homes, asked the boy why he stayed with his family. I'll never forget the boy's answer: "My father is not a Christian. If I leave home, he won't hear about Jesus."
So that young man went to worship, prayed and read the Scriptures, and offered God's love to the world every day. I don't know what happened to him, or if he's even alive today.
But I do know that his faith was real.
On my best days, I want to follow Jesus the way that he followed Jesus.
On my worst days, I still know that I should.