Friday, November 15, 2013

The Persecuted Church

The month of November has been dedicated to praying for the persecuted church. We are asked to pray for the protection of our brothers and sisters who are daily persecuted for a belief in Jesus Christ. We live out a Christianity in America that is much different from the rest of the world. We try to find the church or youth group that best suits our likes and dislikes while we worship in air-conditioned sanctuaries with high-tech sound systems. Well, the persecuted church has a lesson to teach us all.

Meet the members of All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan. As these church members gathered for a meal together
on September 22 of this year, two suicide bombers detonated explosives killing more than 80 Christians and wounding over 150. Take a look at the Christians in the nation of Eritrea, where nearly 200 Christians were imprisoned simply for gathering to pray. Also, earlier this year, four Christians, including two young girls, were killed while attending weddings in Cairo, Egypt. But I think the most heart-breaking story of all is that of three-year-old Weng Goodluck Tshua. In March 2010, when Weng was only three-months-old, his village was attacked by Fulani Muslims who killed 501 Christians, including all nine members of his family. He was pulled from a burning house, but not before the fire had scorched his small feet. 

We live in a safe haven; a bubble that keeps us shielded from the persecution that these Christ followers go through on a daily basis. I encourage you, just as myself, to consider your commitment to, and faith in Jesus Christ. When you profess faith in Christ in these countries you are not committing simply to believe in Christ, but you are offering him your life. That is the way it should be here in America. Church is something that these believers travel miles and risk the lives of their families, as well as their own lives, to attend. If we were to stand in the face of persecution, if we were told to renounce Christ or lose all that we hold dear, what would we do? I have asked myself this question. I have asked myself, “Is my commitment to Christ more than just a label, or is it something that I would give my life for?” These brothers and sisters risk their lives to bring the gospel to a lost and dying world, but we are too afraid to share it with our friends and family members because we think they might view us differently. Oh, that God would show us what it means to truly live for Christ.

One of the most compelling stories is the crucifixion of the Apostle Peter. When Peter was faced with crucifixion he did not waver, but stated that he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord and so he had them crucify him upside-down! Is that the kind of faith we have? Is that the distance we are willing to go to be followers of Jesus Christ? Is our mentality that of Paul’s, the mentality that “to live is Christ and to die is gain”? I’m not saying that all of us should pack up and leave America because we are not persecuted enough; far from it. What I am saying is that we need to examine our faith and the amount of time, effort, and risk that we put into living for Christ. So join with us as we pray for the protection of Christians across the globe and for the gospel of Jesus Christ to spread. The very least we can do for our persecuted brothers and sister in Christ is commit to pray.