Persecution

Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.           Hebrews 10: 32-36 (NLT)

I have heard this Scripture quoted before, especially the last part about not throwing away my trust in God because I will receive His promises. But today I was reading this passage differently because I receive my newsletter from Voice of the Martyrs and one of the “frontline workers” in the Middle East shared it as his one of his favorite Scriptures.

A frontline worker is a pastor or evangelist who is working in a high risk country. High risk is defined as one in which militants see Christianity as a threat to their control. Most are jihadist Muslims but some, like the Nazis of the last century, have identified Christians as the cause of all their troubles and adhere to a rhetoric that if all Christians are expunged from the country (death being the usual route of leaving) then the country will experience great renewal and bounty under a singular way of life. The next step would be to annihilate all Christians from the world.

The frontline workers report that the militants have overplayed their rage because many non-Christians are watching the kindness and gentleness of the Christians, despite this persecution, and wonder just what power this Jesus brings to Christians as they do not retaliate with fighting or anger.

“It used to be when we were doing evangelism among the Muslim people, they had kind of a wall and they were [defensive]. They were defending their beliefs. Right now they are ashamed of it. We are not really mentioning Islam, but we are talking about Christianity; even when we deliver the Bibles, they are not rejecting it. They take it, they read it and they accept it.” – from a native frontline worker

In Bible study, I often ask myself if the passage is for me personally and right now, or is it an historic lesson for the people of the day. I will be reading my Bible with thoughts and pictures in my mind of those who truly are being persecuted right now in their own cities, in their own homes. I will think of the children who are accepting Jesus as Savior and Friend, but also as the One who understands and has endured persecution, even death, so that they may not fear death but know that their life is eternal with Jesus.

Persecution may come into my life one day, as it has with those I now pray for. Their testimony and their hunger for God’s Word is a testimony and example to me to ready myself should I be asked if I am a Christian and will I reject my belief in this Jesus. May I follow their example to stand with peace and strength in Jesus’ shadow, ready to say without fear, “I am a disciple of my LORD Jesus Christ!” No turning back.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus originally written by Sadhu Sundar Singh about an unnamed martyr in India. Aaron Pelsue took the original hymn & evolved it to work his praise band.

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