I recently served as a leader at a Christian retreat for teenagers. Over the weekend, we were asked to take off our watches and shut off our phones so that we could focus our attention on what God had for us over that three-day period. Though it wasn’t as easy to do as I thought it would be, I was glad for the brief reprieve.
It was good not to have my attention pulled away by social media or news of political upheaval, financial crises, and terrorist attacks. Even so, I was keenly aware, that even if I didn’t hear of the latest attack over the weekend, Christians around the world were certainly facing difficulties at that moment. Christians in each of the countries where VOM works face innumerable problems with their families, their government, and those who declare themselves as enemies of Christ. How do they keep their faith in Christ during such tumultuous times?
One of the hymns that comes to mind as an answer is “How Can I Keep From Singing?” by Robert Lowry. The refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?
Immediately following the retreat, I had the privilege of sitting down with Pastor Faisal, who has served in Pakistan for many years. While facing constant difficulties, he continues to follow Christ faithfully.
Pastor Faisal shared that while on his way back from distributing VOM-sponsored Bibles to believers in rural villages, his team was attacked. While driving through a secluded area at night, six gunmen forced their second vehicle to stop.
The gunmen threatened to kill the driver and demanded valuables. They beat one of the passengers badly, and the Christians gave the gunmen all they had. When the robbers asked for more, the Christians offered them the Bibles they had in the van.
Instead of focusing on the fear of what might happen, the Christians in the van kept Psalm 23 in mind. When they had taken all they could, the robbers left. The Christians later learned this criminal gang is notorious for killing their victims.
My problems are not generally as severe as those faced by Pastor Faisal’s team. Mine might be more of distractions or annoyances. And yet, the example of Pastor Faisal and his team are enough to remind me that in those moments, I must continue to keep on singing, because Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth.
“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.