“Killing you’s too easy. We gonna carve up that one’s face so she’s not so pretty … and cut out that teacher’s tongue so she can’t talk about Jesus.”
These threats, coming through our phone from unnamed men in the inner city neighborhood into which we’d moved, filled our hearts with fear. Three other young women and I had moved into a house in the LA ghetto, believing God had called us to have a presence among those with whom we wanted to share Jesus’ love. Safe? Absolutely not.
Some mornings I could barely get out of bed. Some nights our staff men came to the house, kept us company and prayed with us ‘til 2 or 3 in the morning, when we finally thought we might fall asleep. Threatened with rape and mutilation, we learned the way to all the nearest police stations in case we were being followed.
Christmas season was peppered with robberies. Our low-income neighbors often went all out to provide gifts for their children, only to become victims of theft. My housemates and I had been busy making our own gifts. Standing on the ledge in front of a dining room window stood a 24-inch Paper Mache angel with a bib-like apron. Around midnight, two staff women were downstairs working on their own creations of leather work and stitchery when some gang members walked by and smashed the window. The glass shattered, falling into the angel’s apron!
“The angel saved us, the angel saved us,” called Arletta as we phoned the police to report the vandalism. We were struck down; but not destroyed. God was with us through every threat, every attack, and the break-ins we experienced.
One night I was particularly exhausted and terrified. I climbed into bed, pulled the covers up over my shoulders, and prayed “Lord, if you don’t waken me in the morning I don’t think I’ll get up for work. I’m too scared and worn out to hear an alarm.”
And at 7 am I heard my name—in a loving, warm voice that sounded like rushing waters—just “Carol”. I looked around…and saw no one. But I recognized it as my Father’s voice.
“Thank you, Abba.” I lifted my voice in praise, got up and dressed, and headed into work.
It was moments like this—hearing my name spoken by an unseen Presence, looking at who God is through his Word, catching glimpses of eternity—through which God sustained me during those trials.
Today Christians are being tortured and murdered In the Middle East. They need God’s sustaining grace and peace in the middle of their trials—and they need to know Christians in other countries have not forgotten them.
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (II Corinthians 4:17-18, NLT)
Good Father, be with your children who are facing torture, starvation, murder, uprooting from their homes and countries. I confess I can’t even comprehend what it would be like to have my child murdered and desecrated. Assure these sisters and brothers in the faith that, even as they are struck down, they are not destroyed. Give them moments of clarity about you. Let their roots go deep into the soil of your love so they can stand despite storms and wind and persecution. Grant them glimpses of eternity to sustain them, knowing you will never abandon them and that glory awaits. Show me how I can help. And please minister your peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus’ name.