Terrorists seek to create terror—to fill people with fear. In the United States, we often hear about terrorism from the mouths of politicians or policemen "fighting against terrorism" or trying to prevent "terror attacks." Often terrorists create fear for a political purpose.
Those who persecute our Christian brothers and sisters in hostile and restricted nations around the world seek to create terror in believers in order to stop the spread of the gospel. Blowing up churches in Nigeria is designed to make Christians too fearful to go to church. Arresting pastors in China is designed to make them afraid to continue working in unregistered churches. Threatening to kill the children of a pastor in FARC-controlled areas of Colombia is designed to make the pastor too afraid to stay in that area.
But Christians have a clear scriptural mandate not to fear. When VOM's founder, Richard Wurmbrand, was arrested in Communist Romania on February 29th, 1948, he was reminded that he had been told that the instruction, "Do not be afraid," appears in different forms in the Bible 366 times, one for each day of the year, including leap day, the day of his arrest.
It is easy to quote verses like II Timothy 1:7 ("God has not given us a spirit of fear…") in a warm home with a full stomach. It is much harder to live them out in a nation where enemies of the gospel are arrayed in every direction, seeking to eliminate the gospel influence from their land. Yet our persecuted brothers and sisters overcome this fear to share the gospel, plant churches and worship together.
As you pray for persecuted Christians this weekend, one of the things you can pray is that they will not be overcome by fear, but will boldly go forward to the things Christ has called them to, in spite of the risk or the danger. Will you join in that prayer?
YOUR TURN: What fears have you had to overcome to more faithfully serve the Lord?