The Arabic letter “nun” which has been used to identify Christians as “Nazarenes”

Yesterday we spent the morning praying for the globally persecuted church. Christians throughout the world, along with many other people and faiths, are abused because of their beliefs and faith practices. We watched video clips from those in China, Nigeria, Iraq, and communist Romania (back in 1940s). We discussed next steps such as teaching online with WEI, praying with the Voice of the Martyrs app, and supporting Malawi missions. It was an emotional day with our people. It helped us to realize that even though there are people suffering all over the world, some remain true to their faith. It’s not that they are persecuted by the answer to a simple question, “Do You Follow Jesus—Yes or No?” They are persecuted for practicing their faith. They are told not to go to church, gather with other Christians, tell people about Jesus, baptize those who want to leave the national religion, or handing out Bibles. They are punished for what they do, not what they say they believe. They are punished for reading and handing out Bibles. They are persecuted for teaching about Jesus. Some walk miles to church only to return home to find a mark/label on their door identifying them as followers of Jesus.

Some of the stories involved people who heard the message of Jesus and God’s kingdom, accepted it, were baptized, and then began to suffer. No advanced Bible degrees, no formal training, no expensive buildings for worship—just people who were willing to suffer for a Jesus whom they just recently met. I think that the video we watched that was hardest for me was the one where these men, women, and children shared their joy in persecution.

There are many studies being done on why people leave churches and faith congregations.  All of them are valid and well informed. I have read the books and understand that it is an important issue. We do worry about how to engage people who are busy on Sunday mornings, or are not sold on this “Jesus as Lord” phenomena. We have been trying to make amends for the atrocious behaviors of people who claim to follow Jesus and yet live lives which grieve their Lord. I understand that people have left over our hypocrisy.

However, I wonder what the research would tell us about those who “stay.”  When it comes to interviewing those who suffer for Jesus, maybe it is important to understand why they stay, why they endure, and why they continue to practice. These stories are inspiring. These stories and testimonies bring tears to our eyes. These stories inspire hope, courage, and faith. You can view them on Voice of the Martyr You Tube Channel. You can read how people are impacted by these videos. You can also read comments denying the persecutions (if we aren’t willing to believe sexual assault victims why would we believe in religious persecution). I guess it is hard to believe that people can be so cruel as to hurt others for a belief system. Yet it is a truth many of us can accept.

 

It can be harder to believe that there are those who endure this and sense joy, peace, and love.

It is even harder to understand how many of our brothers and sisters can forgive their enemies?

After watching these testimonies, I realize that I don’t really have any enemies. Just inconvenience—and  if that is my worst enemy, I can love people through that.

If you want to join us in this journey–we would love to have you with us.

  1. Sign up to be an English and Bible teacher for online students at World English Institute. There are people from many countries learning the Bible and reading in English. Many are in countries where Christianity is outlawed.
  2. Download the Voice of the Martyr’s app on your phone. Receive the daily reminder to pray for a country and those in prison for sharing their faith. Visit here for resources, video testimonies, and materials.
  3. Give thanks each day for the opportunity to practice your faith, love others, attend church, and share Jesus freely. Then, practice your faith today!
  4. Support, pray for, or share our Malawi mission trip.

God bless you this week!

Ron Clark