Christians in the west have had it pretty easy for a while. Mostly, we feel we are persecuted when the government tries to infringe on our constitutional guarantees of liberty. Sometimes people threaten us or malign us for our beliefs. Atheists try to shout us down. Yet, we have little persecution, compared to history. Even Russia is now friendly to Christianity... as long as you stay out of the way of the government's totalitarian leanings.
However, in the rest of the world, such as in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Far East, Christianity is on the run. Sort of...
* Chaldean Christians in Iraq and Syria, the Chaldean church who have been part of the faith since the first century, are fleeing their cities with nowhere to go. Because they refuse to convert to Islam.
* Egyptian Christians have had their churches bombed, burned and their leaders stoned or shot by the Muslim Brotherhood. Because they refuse to deny Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
* Christians in India are very careful not to rile the police or government authorities who are primarily Hindu and who occasionally have pastors and church leaders beaten and arrested for evangelizing. Because they refuse to keep inside the walls of their churches, they keep preaching and teaching Jesus as the Risen Savior.
* Pakistani Christians have their churches and homes fire-bombed routinely. Because they will not deny Christ and become Muslim.
* African Christians have their children kidnapped, their women raped and their leaders shot at random intervals. Because they refuse to accept Muhammad as "Gods only prophet".
* In China, the government bull dozes churches without notice and arrests Bible believers as "dissidents". Because they refuse to stop evangelizing in the name of Jesus.
All of this by the zealous Anti-Christ forces of radical Islamists or other governments that feel threatened by Jesus. But, we in the west sit comfortably in our homes while Christians in other parts of the world are martyred, harassed, tortured and forced out of their homes.
In this generation, we have seen the faithful stand their ground against an onslaught of attack by real forces who will do anything to destroy "the Faith that was once and for all time delivered to the Saints". We have seen Godly missionaries, pastors, churches remain faithful to the Lord Jesus through unspeakable horrors. While we often debate what dogma is better and while we argue who is right about this point or another, we have witnessed millions of Christians stand for the name of Jesus and endure incredible hardship, or be killed, for His name.
As for me and my house, I pray we have the courage of Pastor Saieed.
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thank you for posting this video Watchman. Im going to share it...
Goody, share away! Love you lil Sis.
thank you thank you very much. love you too :-D
"I don't think anyone can answer this. We all have our minds made up about what we'll do in the face of suffering or death but just like Peter declaring how he would never disown Christ."
But....look at what Peter ended up doing with his life of service to the Lord Jesus Christ....this is the Power of God. That never ever negates the fact that we should all stand firm with and in Christ Jesus.
This is an astounding testimony of an overcomer. So to say that we can't answer this...is an assault to the very power of God in our lives.
It's ok. God knows what I mean and understands it. He loves us both.
I have prayed to God many times for the coming persecution that is coming to the west. We are much too comfortable in thinking that there is no way it could happen in our country but as you pointed out many of our brothers and sisters are enduring this as we speak and standing strong and not loving their life til the end. Ultimately it is Jesus who is living inside us who will give us that strength to endure til the end. He said that when the time comes that we are offered up to be martyred for His sake, that we must not think beforehand what we are going to say. We must remember that He will speak through us in that final hour. As members of the Body of Christ, we do need to encourage one another every day to be diligent and stand strong and continue making disciples for Him, especially in these last days.
I have been plagued by many horrible thoughts of my children being taken from me and murdered right before my eyes or them having to witness my death. I know this is satan trying to make me falter on my narrow path. Last night it got so overwhelming I got on my knees and just started repeating over and over "I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me" and told the devil to get behind me he has no power here in the name of Jesus. I believe we must not pay any heed to the fear we have in persecution. It may come upon us for a short while but Jesus will expel it if you ask Him to. We must always have our heart set on living with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever. Once we have endured the persecution, that is where we are going to be.
So by the testimony of all the martyrs who have given their lives for Jesus' sake, we have hope that we can all have that same strength to not give in and be witnesses til we are completely silenced. Thank you for writing about this. I think Christians need to be aware if they already aren't about what we need to ask God to prepare us for.
With Love in Christ,
Sorry to be long here. But, I want to thank you all for joining in and giving your thoughts. My post has been a calculated conjecture to accomplish 2 things:
1. Raise awareness (or test it) about this concern of "what if Persecution comes".
2. Provide a forum for considering what God thinks of all this. And thereby determine where our hearts and minds correspond with His, or don't.
Many of the answers are great and clear statements of how we, as individual Christians, are to endure and overcome persecution in our own experience. I don't have time to respond to each one. But I liked many. What troubles me is when we take a fatalistic perspective or take a completely self-centered perspective.
I keep mentioning Pastor Saieed for a reason. He isn’t being persecuted in his home in America. He left that to go to Iran and share the Gospel in Iran, a place where he knew in advance he would be arrested. He had the courage to step out, knowing the consequences.
I haven't seen any that consider the challenge from the other fellow's point of view. That is: what does God want for that person? What is the purpose of persecution from the persecutor's perspective? Some amazing things have happened in Egypt, when very hostile Muslims encountered forgiveness and grace from among Christians they had persecuted. (Very recent situation).
Let's consider: what does Christ think of this from the perspective of how the lost Muslim or lost Atheist will be affected in a time of greater persecution? How do we, as the Holy People of Christ reflect the Agape-love of Christ to a world that merely wants to kill us, convert us or silence us? What can we do? What should we do? What will bear fruit for the Kingdom?
If we take a fatalistic approach, we miss the heart of God by more than a mile. Yes, it's true "who ever will be saved will be saved". But Jesus commands us to take action, not to be idle. And the vast majority of Christians are sitting on the sidelines watching, or totally distracted. When Jesus said "make disciples", in Matthew 28, he didn't mean to force or coerce, but he did mean for us to take an active role in pursuing the lost. Our lack of action and commitment is giving rise to a very committed anti-Christian spirit today. The unbelieving world no longer respects or believes the Gospel because we do not take it seriously enough, as a people.
For instance: How many churches take an active role in reaching Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists in their own communities today? If you live within 5 miles of any major US city today, you live within 10 minutes of a vast community of immigrant workers who are here on work visas - many of whom will obtain Green Cards and eventually Citizenship. It is well known among these foreign nationals that most Americans will ignore them, at best. It is also well known among them that Americans are reported to be 60% "christians". [Regardless of the fact that almost no city or state in America has more than 18% Bible-believing committed followers of Christ] This is noticed by these people and they are staring at the church wondering why we do nothing to reach out to them.
So the perception of these people, who number in the Millions nationwide, is that American Christians could not care less if they go to the "christian hell" ...and they are right, for the most part. Even in Churches that send and support missionaries overseas, you will scarcely find one in a hundred that has an active ministry to reach foreign nationals with the saving grace of Jesus Christ, in their own communities. I know of one church that sits right next door to a community of at least 200 foreign nationals that has never so much as invited them to a pot-luck.
My challenge to my friends is this: don't wait in hiding for some future persecution that you are convinced you will overcome by the Grace of God. If you are failing to deliberately engage people with the Gospel today, you are already cowering in fear. Let me say that again: if you are failing to step out and boldly approach someone with the Good News, you have already hidden your lamp under a bushel and run away from a perceived persecution that may come.
Your church may find it satisfactory to ignore the mission field in your neighborhood. But, I challenge you to break through that thinking and be an overcomer today. Be a deliberate witness to a lost Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist today. You see, to the run-of-the-mill Muslim, our failure to thoughtfully and lovingly engage them with the Gospel is sufficient evidence to doubt the message in it's entirety already. They already know enough of what Christians believe to know that we have a command to share this message and our lack of commitment speaks volumes to them about our insincerity.
I'm not saying go jump into somebody's face and tell them they are going to hell. Muslims already fear that. This is why they are so dedicated to their message. They are convinced that Allah (their idea of god) is not going to have any mercy on them at all unless they are totally committed to Islam. Some take a "be a good person" ideal of what it means to be devoted to Islam; others are more "evangelistic" and others believe that they should coerce and shame people into following Islam. But they are thoroughly devoted to the ideal that they must compel people to follow Islam and will risk jobs, friendships, even immigration status to compel you to become a Muslim.
My thought on how to reach Muslims, in particular and lost people in general, is to take the Good Samaritan approach. First do what it takes to notice and meet their immediate need, by bandaging up their wounds and carrying them out of harm's way (metaphorically). Second feed them (with the word). Third, see to it they have a good place of lodging (a church home). It is amazing what you can do to reach a lost Muslim or Hindu by just befriending them and finding out who they are, what is in their hearts. Many of them are much more curious about Jesus than you imagine, but they will not likely communicate that to you, unless you first open the door. You have to reach out to them.
I will tell you this: if the shoe was on the other foot, they would open doors to you and deliberately befriend you. In most middle eastern and central Asian communities, it is considered a terrible shame to them if they fail to show hospitality to a foreigner (another reason why they doubt the Gospel - because Americans do not heed this).
There are some great programs out there that you can study to help you, so you can learn to understand the culture of these people. I highly recommend learning how they think, learning what cultural rules are absolutes for them and why. But, if you are willing to walk with Jesus and let Him guide you, He will lead you to opportunities to reach lost people all around you. This can and will make a huge difference in your life, your walk and in the lives of the people you reach. Be fearless about reaching out to people within your sphere, your community, your work.
But, if you are willing to walk with Jesus and let Him guide you, He will lead you to opportunities to reach lost people all around you.
This is true, with the major theme being, if you let Jesus guide you. I understand what you say about Pastor Saieed. Everyone is not called to that but maybe he was. Scipture shows a lot of instances where some were not called into such a ministry, but used in other ways. The woman at the well went and testified to the people in town. She didn't go into dangerous territory. But she made such an impression that she has a place in scripture. Some are called to be apostles, teachers, evangelists, and many other callings. But we are all called to testify. It may be to our next door neighbor or family members or our friends. It may be going into prisons to preach and teach. It may be going to dangerous countries. Some time it may even be to raise our kids on Godly principals to train them in the way they should go. We all need to listen to what God is placing in our hearts to know where he is wanting us to be.
There was a girl at Columbine who was asked to renounce Christ, when she refused she was shot and killed. As I said about Peter, he too boldly proclaimed that he would never renounce Jesus, but when he was faced with death, he did three times. None of us can know what we will do. We can speak boldly and proclaim we know but the truth comes in the moment. And just as Peter, God doesn't give up on us when we are afraid. He uses that to mold us and make us bolder and stronger. He understands our weaknesses. I pray if I am ever faced with this choice that I'm bold enough. But I will never know unless it happens.
Amen! Thank you so much for this post. I have recently completely surrendered my life to Christ after years of not fully surrendering myself. He has revealed this to me recently and I never knew that we are to always be making disciples in His name. I was a lukewarm, hypocritical Christian before but now I'm on fire for the Lord and we should always be seeking opportunities to tell people the reason for the hope that we have.
I may be confused with my information, but Pastor Saeed didn't even go there to share the gospel. Converted from Muslim to Christianity, he went there to only build an orphanage. I'm sure he hoped to share the gospel thru this project but just the fact that he was a Christian was the reason he was arrested. This info has nothing to do with what we're talking about but just wanted to toss this info out there.