My awakening in the faith as a young man in the Philippines came during the reign of a dictator who ruled the country under one-man rule for 19 years. Living out our faith under tyranny and oppression has taught me so much about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. There are still many places in the world where to profess that you are a disciple of Jesus could literally mean political peril, if not actual danger to one's life. Such is the case in the Republic of Georgia of the former Soviet Union.
I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, archbishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) of the Republic of Georgia, when I was still on staff with International Ministries. The EBC is one of ABCUSA's international partners. I was immediately drawn to his contagious Christian spirit, for he reminded me of the many saints I have admired and known through the years in my own journey - those who fiercely hoped, and dared to proclaim the gospel of freedom in Christ through their deeds and words inspite of clear danger to themselves and their families. It is a spirit, and witness, forged in the kiln of a unique historical journey that had to come to terms again and again with the true cost of discipleship.