As I sit here drinking my coffee in my humble, but thoroughly middle class American home, I think of all of those people, Christians in particular, who go through hell and back just they don’t fit the mold of their neighborhoods, towns, and countries. Can you imagine being told you cannot remain true to your faith and that if you do, you will be tortured or killed? Can you imagine having to meet for bible study in secret hideaway places, praying as you do that your group of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will come to no harm simply because they wanted to worship God and study His word? I cannot really imagine these things, even though it is undeniably true that these things are occurring in other parts of the world.
I’m currently reading I am N, which is a series of essays about Christian individuals living in Muslim countries and the persecution and dangers they face every day just because they decided to follow Christ. There are two very provocative common themes in most of these essays. First, they don’t hate Muslims, but forgive and pray for their Muslim persecutors daily. They do this even if family or friends have been kidnapped, tortured and killed. Christians in persecuted areas of the world seem to have read the gospel more thoroughly and have absorbed it into their souls so deeply that they would rather die than judge others or let others go without hearing about the saving grace of Christ Jesus their Lord.
The second provocative theme in these essays is that they beseech, seek and even beg for the prayers of their brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. They are doing magnificent work in responding to the Great Commission under horrible, almost unbelievable circumstances and all they ask from their fellow Christians, us, is that we pray that they may reach more people for Christ before they are captured or, worse, killed. They truly have found the “peace that passes all understanding” and taken the Great Commission seriously. The Great Commission came from Christ in Mark 16:15-20 (NIV)
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Oh, that more of us would have the strength of faith and grit found in our fellow believers in persecuted nations! We feel persecuted here in the U.S. if someone teases us sarcastically about believing in “Jesus and all those other myths and fairy tales.” Even though we are uncomfortable in those situations, we don’t ever fear being jailed, tortured, or killed as a result of them. Our greatest persecution here in the U.S. is that someone might find out we’re a Christian and then tease us, openly mock our faith or at the worst, think we are uncool, foolish, and close-minded.
I almost envy those who are being persecuted for following Jesus because they have a faith that is vital to them; so vital in fact that they are willing to die for it. Would you die for Christ? Would you willingly and knowingly subject yourself, your family and friends to danger for your faith? If not, you need to read I Am N. It will change your whole perspective on your faith and your life.
Please pray daily for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith. That’s all they are requesting from us. I expect God is asking us for much more than that. What do you think?