Beatrice Stockli was a Swiss missionary to Mali. She first visited the country in1998 as part of a mission’s team and ended up staying and ministering to the people there for many years. In April 2012, she was kidnapped by Islamist insurgents. After ten days of captivity, she was released and returned home to Switzerland for a brief time. And then, against counsel and the wishes of her family, Beatrice returned to Mali to continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who did not know Him.
In June 2016, she was again kidnapped by a radical Muslim group called Jama’at Nasr al-Islam. At some point in her captivity, Beatrice was killed by her captors. She died living out the mission of Christ. Hers was a life of courage and surrender. As we complain about the state of our lives, I wonder who among us possesses the courage and devotion to live a life as committed to Christ as Beatrice and so many other Christian martyrs have?
Before returning to Mali, Beatrice quoted Galatians 2:19-20 as her reason for returning. The passage says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” She didn’t care what became of her life. Having been kidnapped before, she knew better than most what the risks were in returning to serve. She didn’t consider the risk to be greater than the mission. To Beatrice, there was Jesus and nothing else. She died spreading His love and truth to people in desperate need of it.
What would we have done in Beatrice’s situation? Would we have returned after surviving being kidnapped by violent people? Perhaps a better question is, would we have gone in the first place? Not everyone is called to serve as a missionary in hostile areas, but we are all called to speak the name of Jesus and spread His love and truth wherever we go (Matthew 28:18-20).
It’s interesting to see how God has been working over the past years. When the number of Christians going to other nations was dwindling, God used a global refugee crisis to bring peoples of other nations to places where they could hear His gospel. As disciples of Jesus become comfortable and lazy in a distorted Western version of Christianity, God is using unrest and political turmoil to bring testing to their doorsteps. When God’s people refuse to carry out His mission, He will make a way for His mission to move forward. He always has and always will.
God’s plan will not be thwarted by any plan of men or Satan. The will of the Lord will be accomplished. When we willingly agree to be a part of His plan, we will find peace in the midst of terror and strength when we are weak. But if we refuse to obey Him and squander the blessings He has lavishly poured out on us, the journey to the end will be full of pain and discomfort. It will be far better for us to surrender completely, just as Beatrice did, before we are given no choice. God lovingly beckons us to come and surrender; to come and die to ourselves so we can live in Him.
Don’t think you can live as a Christian in name only and come away unscathed. Judgment will come. Will it find you surrendered and committed to Jesus, or devoted to the things of this world you thought would bring comfort and security? Trouble will come for us all (John 16:33). Surrender to Christ and face whatever may come boldly, just as Beatrice did. Live your life dead to self and alive in Christ.