For some, the Great Controversy is a theological meta-narrative within which everything makes sense. We read the book. We chart end-time prophecies. We study Last Day Events. We prep spiritually. We may dread conflict, but isn’t the Great Controversy really our Great Opportunity?
Consider B, a jihadi. In his own words, he was an “activist for Allah.” He was ready to die for Islam, preferably after killing some infidel Christians. While B was plotting a suicide attack, Jesus appeared to him in a dream and affirmed that He alone is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” B became a disciple. He spent 10 years planting congregations among Muslims, but he always hated Adventists, leading the persecution of Adventists wherever he went.
Last year, B’s wife had a mental breakdown. His own churches disowned him, for this misfortune indicated that B must be a great sinner. The local AFM missionaries heard about B’s family plight, and our congregation rallied around their tormentor. They cooked. They washed. They nursed. They adopted B’s infant while his wife was incapacitated. Nine months passed. Eventually, B’s wife was delivered, and her mental illness disappeared. She joined Brother B in the baptismal pool, and great was our congregation’s rejoicing!
Joining them in the water was Sister M. A demon had raped her nightly for years. Islam had no answer. In desperation, she turned to the local AFM missionary, and the congregation again rallied around her and prayed for her, and she was delivered. Her family could say nothing, for Jesus had answered her prayers. Oh the joy as she was baptized with water and the Spirit!
The same Sabbath, Sister T, six months pregnant, sat quietly in a corner, her head bowed. Raised by devout Muslim parents, she heard a voice in a dream tell her to follow two little girls. The next morning, she saw the two girls from her dream walk past her door! She followed them . . . right into the only Adventist church in that city. Jesus appeared to her that night, and she surrendered her life to Him. Her parents were ashamed and furious. They imprisoned her, beat her, whipped her, cut her, stoned her and poisoned her. She lived and would not deny Jesus. Desperate, her parents paid a shaman to rape and shame her. Pregnant and afraid for her life, Sister T fled far away to the protection of AFM missionaries who arranged a safe house for her. She is keeping her child. She has no income. Her body is a kaleidoscope of scars. Her clan is seeking her nationwide. She lives in daily fear of discovery and violent death. Yet she worships each Sabbath with quiet joy, for God has covered her shame with a robe of honor.
But wait, the Sabbath is not done yet. As the sun sets, we visit Brother S. A refugee, he lives alone and was the financial mainstay for the local congregation. His generosity is legendary. In mid-January, he covenanted with God to do more. Then he suddenly collapsed with a stroke. His legs and arms are useless, and his face droops. His business and his hope evaporated. But the local congregation mobilized. Now brothers care for him every night. Sisters cook food and feed him spoonful by spoonful. Poverty-stricken members come to massage his arms and legs. This is rich love in action among the poorest of the poor. We pray for Brother S. We hold his hands. We share promises. He mumbles, and his eyes light up. Hope is restored.
Yes, John did write, “Woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:12). But the Great Controversy is no abstract theological motif. It is our Great, no, our Greatest Opportunity. The greater the conflict, the greater the human cost, and the greater our opportunity to be the light of the world, to witness, minister, share, support, care, pray, fast and love those caught in Satan’s grip, that prisoners of pain might become, by the grace of God, prisoners of hope! Pray. Give. Go.