Christians in Indonesia continue to worship at the Bait el Dokulamo church, eight years after jihad extremists burned their church building and killed 35 people.
The testimonies of persecuted Christians challenge us. Reading their stories nearly every day, I often ask myself if they are challenging me in the right way. What is our response to their testimonies?
Some believers that VOM work with are not persecuted for being Christians but rather for their evangelistic activities and because they share the gospel. In some places the government or other religious groups can be tolerant of other beliefs and officials will even tell believers they that have no problem with them being Christians. It’s the activities that accompany their Christianity that they take issue with. It’s the active evangelism that causes the persecution.
I had a convicting thought about this. If the United States became opposed to all evangelistic activities and anything that involved openly sharing our faith outside of the church, how long would it take for me to get into trouble? Would it take a week for someone to notice? A month? Or could possibly years go by before anyone would ever take issue with me for boldly sharing the gospel with an unbeliever? Somehow it can be so easy to be involved in all kinds of church and ‘ministry’ but we can still miss the basic mandate of sharing the good news of Christ with the lost.
It’s not that Christians in America don’t care about the lost; I think it’s that some of us are so distracted by everything else. I heard a pastor once say, “If God answered every one of your prayers from the last week- how many people would be saved?” It’s a sobering thought when I realize that often the majority of my prayers are not for lost people that I know. My prayers demonstrate where my attention is and my actions even more so. Where is our attention? How active are we with the lost?
One of the main things that VOM does is support what we call ‘front-line’ workers. We should also ask ourselves if live like we are on the front-lines. We, who don’t face as strong of an opposition to being on the front-line can sometimes get so distracted by our homes and retirement and vacations and investments that if we aren’t careful, we will forget the spiritual battle that we are in. It is important to remember that it’s not just in the countries where we see blatant persecution that the battle exists. The battle is here. It’s everywhere that people turn their worship towards something other than Jesus, whether or not they say it’s a deity.
I hope that our response to the testimonies of those who are persecuted for sharing their faith don’t just cause us to feel sorry for them, feel guilty, or wonder why we are spoiled. I can take this even further; I hope these stories don’t only cause us to want to advocate for the freedoms of Christians in closed nations, or make us more grateful that we can go to bookstore and purchase a Bible, or cause us to pray for persecuted Christians, or send them something they need. None of these last things are bad, in fact they are very good things.
But more than anything I hope their stories of astounding faith cause us to act, to stand up in our front-line and in our own sphere of influence and do exactly what they are doing: advance the Kingdom; share the good news of Christ and His gospel. I hope the stories of our persecuted brothers and sisters compel and inspire us to a deeper walk with Christ, and a deeper desire for people to know Him, and I think that is what they would want as well.
“Grace Taylor” serves on the staff of VOM. She was first introduced to the ministry of VOM by her parents and grandparents, who received the VOM newsletter, and through the VOM book Jesus Freaks. She has served in 12 different countries and is passionate about helping expand God’s Kingdom throughout the nations of the world.