Devotional

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. 

The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure yet, at heart, a very human story—of Nik and Ruth Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and they were clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, “Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn’t work in Somalia. Their story and the insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, serves as a powerful case study for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.

Nik compared his experiences to the Bible. “You got on the plane to go was the New Testament and when you landed you were in the Old Testament. It was hell.” They saw real darkness in Somalia. After their son died they returned to the mission field in some of the toughest places for the gospel and asked a simple question: Is Jesus worth it?  That began their journey of sitting at the feet of believers being persecuted and ask them to teach them. They witnessed the sacrifice of believers. 

One powerful scene in The Insanity of God movie is the story of Dmitri, the pastor of a small house church in the former Soviet Union. One night, communist officials burst into his home during worship. They arrested Dmitri and sent him to prison for 17 years, more than 600 miles from his family. Dmitri was the only believer among 1,500 hardened criminals. The isolation from the body of Christ combined with the physical torture tested his faith and strength. But he found a way to endure. For 17 years in prison, every morning at daybreak, Dmitri would stand at attention by his bed, Nik wrote. “As was his custom, he would face the east, raise his arms in praise to God, and then he would sing … to Jesus. … The other prisoners banged metal cups against the iron bars in angry protest.  Then, one day, after finding a piece of paper on which Dmitri had written every Scripture reference, Bible verse, story, and song he could recall, his jailers beat him severely and threatened him with execution. As they dragged him from his cell down the center corridor toward the courtyard, Dmitri heard a strange sound.”

The 1,500 criminals who had long ridiculed him stood at attention by their beds. They faced the East, raised their arms, and began to sing the song they had heard Dmitri sing to Jesus every morning. The guards returned Dmitri to his cell. Sometime later, he was released. 

“I went looking for tools from God and what I found was the resurrected Christ himself,“ Nik said. 

About the Author: Nik Ripken is the world’s leading expert on the persecuted church in Muslim contexts. He is a missions veteran of 36 years, having served primarily in North Africa and the Middle East. He is the author of The Insanity of Obedience and The Insanity of Sacrifice. He and his wife have conducted extensive research in approximately 72 countries with believers in persecution including how they view suffering through a Biblical lens.