Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Calm After the Machetes

Imagine waking up each morning, wondering if today is the day. You've heard the stories of the fanatical gangs swooping into sleeping villages in the dead of night. You've seen the damage their sharpened machetes have done, killing and maiming to the point where some villages resemble a butcher's shop more than a human dwelling place.

So far, your village has been spared. But you live each day knowing they will come, that there is no escape.
As one who has left Islam for a life committed to Jesus, you are an apostate.

And so you wait, knowing your country has enacted Sharia Law, the law of Islam that orders apostates to be killed if they refuse to repent, to return.

The name of Christ is written on your heart; it might as well be stamped in cross-hairs of blood on your forehead, too.

Sadly, this is reality for thousands of people around the globe. And Scripture says we're next; Christians can all expect persecution.

John teaches if we belong to Jesus, we can expect the world to treat us as they did him: "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (15:20). Even Timothy makes sure we understand that persecution "will" happen to "everyone" who claims Christ: "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12).

But honestly, how many of us live daily expecting to be persecuted just as we expect the sun to rise?

Just two months ago in March, 300 Muslims entered three villages in the African country of Nigeria. In one night, they selectively burned houses and massacred with guns and machetes more than 500 Christians. 80 percent of those slaughtered were women and children.

Days later, Medical Director at Voice of the Martyrs, Dr. Kim, visited the villages to provide much-needed medical care. He wrote, "It looks to me like the Muslims had sharpened their weapons before the attack, because the wounds on these folks were significantly deeper and more destructive than any of those I saw in January when Muslims attacked Christians in Jos."

The full story of these all-too-common attacks on Christians is recorded in Dr. Kim's full report.

Yes, the savagery is horrifying. The images of mutilated toddlers no larger than my own twins crushes this mother's heart. But what really breaks me is the image at the end of the video of the remaining Christians gathered round outside the remains of a charred church building, worshiping God in song.

The tongue may be foreign to my ears, but that familiar tune connects my heart to theirs:

"'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
and to take him at his word;
just to rest upon his promise,
and to know, "Thus saith the Lord."

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him!
How I've proved him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust him more!

What a testimony--to sing of God's grade, of His a literal valley of the shadow of death.

Thank you God for those of us who are able to publicly worship you, the one true God, without constant fear for our lives. Prepare our hearts for the persecution we know must come to us as your children. In time of trial, help us to overcome our humanity so that we can stand firm, honoring and glorifying your name for all the world to see.

Photo: The Voice of the Martyrs. June 2010: Special Update Report.

**For More Information on praying for, receiving information about, or donating to the VOM ministry to help persecuted Christians, visit Voice of the Martyrs.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer, thank you for sharing about these persecutions. How horrifying it is for these Christians; yet, their testimony and love is so inspiring.

    Yes, all of us will suffer persecution, and it is coming to us, as the Muslim population grows even in our own country. In time, unless the rapture comes soon, we may see and experience things we never would have expected.

    Yet, God is faithful, and may we continue in joy and thanksgiving for Jesus Christ!

    Blessings, and much love,