Tag Archive: Persecution

I AM A CHRISTIAN

This caption expressed some of my feelings after the shooting

This caption expressed some of my feelings after the shooting

Once again, our nation is rocked by a mass shooting on a college campus, this time in Oregon. According to survivors, the shooter asked those who were Christians to stand, then murdered them. I’ve thought about how I would respond. I don’t think we really know until we are in that situation. But I pray that in such a trial God would give me the grace needed to stand true to Him.

The students who were shot and/or killed could have remained in their seats, or even sat down after the first person was shot. They didn’t. They stood firm to the end.

I can’t help but wonder what went through their minds as they waited seconds, minutes for their deaths. Did they think of beloved family, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends? Did they think of seeing Jesus momentarily? Were they in shock? Whatever went through their minds, these individuals honored their Lord by standing for Him.

Let us pray for families and friends who are suffering the horrific fall-out from this evil. I can’t imagine the shock and anguish of these families, and on the school campus. Pray for comfort, peace, and hope–all of which take time. Yes, hope in God’s promises …

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

Jesus was there in that classroom with the professor and students. They were not alone.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 NIV

Persecution of Christ-followers is not new. The Apostle John wrote to the church in ancient Smyrna (today’s Izmir in Turkey) who were going through severe persecution. “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer … Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I (God) will give you life as your victor’s crown.” (Rev. 2:8-11 NIV)

He gave His life for me, and for you

He gave His life for us!

These deaths are a tragedy for all of us. They are an even greater tragedy for those who have lost a loved one. But the murders were not carried out in a vacuum. God was THERE.

He gave His life for me, ransomed me from sin, and promised me eternal life. May I remain faithful through life and to death.

I AM A CHRISTIAN

Jerusalem Snow

Ten inches of snow fell in Jerusalem overnight. I wakened about 4 am andView from our room looked out our hotel window to see snow resting on tree branches and stacked on our balcony railings. Jerusalem looked like a winter wonderland. Roads were closed all over the city and priority is getting the road to the airport open.

Our thirty-one congenial travelers are enjoying learning to know each other. Meal buffets at the Dan Jerusalem are amazing. Choices are varied and extensive and we are learning a bit about kosher laws i.e. no dairy along with meat. Heard of a traveler who smuggled in a small packet of creamer for her coffee, only to have a Rabbi call her out on it in the dining room.

Salad bar

Salad bar

About 10 am we gathered in the piano bar. “Sparky,” one of our travelers, played “The Old Rugged Cross” and the mood was mellow.

Sparky at the piano

Sparky at the piano

Our pastor, Rene Schlaepfer, led us in a devotional time together. At 11:20 the sun came out in all its glory, so at 12:30 we boarded our bus for a city tour. Schools were out and children and adults were playing outside. As the bus was hit by some hard snowballs, we realized there were rocks in those snowballs, older revelers hoping to break a window.

We sloshed through melting snow, around Gethsemane and its olive trees, and into the Church of Gethsemane. All the restaurants Kenny wanted to take us to were closed, so we hiked up the hill to a small food stand and enjoyed the man’s offer of hot coffee, tea, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Church of Gethsemane

Entering the Old City via The Lions Gate, we walked to the site of Pilate’s judgment seat and on to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed by the Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Coptic Christians, Arminians, and two other groups to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. We wandered through the souks and down the Via Dolorosa, where retired police officer Robert struck up a conversation with some of the Israeli soldiers. By the time we returned to the hotel we were soaked, head to toe. Don used his engineering skills to rig up an umbrella to hold one of his tennies right under the air vent so the shoe would dry overnight.???????? (It worked!)

Dinner ahead tonite, Dead Sea tomorrow.

Struck Down but not Destroyed

“Killing you’s too easy. We gonna carve up her face so she’s not so pretty no more…and cut out that one’s tongue so she can’t talk about Jesus.”

These threats, coming through our phone from anonymous  men in the inner city neighborhood we’d moved into, filled our hearts with fear. Four young women 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.

Yes, we were struck down. Some mornings I could barely get out of bed. Some nights our staff men came, 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 also been busy making gifts. Standing in front of a dining room window stood a 24-inch Paper Mache angel with a bib-like apron. Two staff women were downstairs working on their own creations of leather work and stitchery late one night 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 in every threat, every attack, and the break-ins we experienced.free-angel-clip-art-.073

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 knew it was my Father’s voice. He loved me enough to waken me in the most loving, intimate way because I needed that that morning.

“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 horrifically tortured and murdered In the Middle East. Our pastor’s message this weekend tied in beautifully with my prayers for them this week as I prayed II Cor 4:7-18 something like this:free-christian-clip-art-.107

“Father, your persecuted Church is hard pressed on every side. Let them know they are not crushed. Although persecuted, remind them they are not abandoned. Help them not to lose heart. Though outwardly they are wasting away, let them be renewed inwardly day by day, knowing their momentary troubles are achieving for them an eternal glory that far outweighs these troubles. Help them to fix their eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Prayer: Father, be with your children who are facing torture, starvation, murder. I confess I can’t even comprehend what it would be like to have my child murdered and desecrated. Show me ways to help, and assure my brothers and sisters that, even though they are struck down, they are not destroyed. Remind them that, no matter how weak they feel, you are still all-powerful. Give them moments of clarity about you. Grant them glimpses of eternity to sustain them, knowing you will never abandon them and that glory awaits.

Grace When Needed

Ibrahim, a doctor, gave birth to a daughter in prison, her legs chained during delivery. She fears her daughter may be disabled as a result.

Ibrahim, a doctor, gave birth to a daughter in prison, her legs chained during delivery. She fears her daughter may be disabled as a result.

Under a Death Sentence

Many of us have become acquainted with Meriam Ibrahim through the news. Meriam, a lovely, 27-year old Sudanese woman, was sentenced to death by hanging because of her Christianity, considered apostasy under Shariah law. We have prayed for her release and grieved with her husband, child and newborn. Meriam has shown rare courage and God-given strength by refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

While Ibrahim has been released into the US Embassy in Sudan, her future is still uncertain as the government threatens to bring other charges against her.

How Will I Respond?

How will I respond if/when I face this kind of persecution? Will I fold, or will I allow God to give me the strength to stand? We have some historic precedents. In the Old Testament, Daniel’s three friends were given a choice to bow down to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar or be thrown into a fiery furnace. They refused to worship his image, speaking boldly to the King: “… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

In his anger, the king ordered the fire to be heated seven times hotter than normal–hot enough that the guards who carried the three friends to the furnace were killed instantly. (Daniel 3:22)

What courage. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego trusted their sovereign God. Their faith was not based on His freeing them; they were committed to serving God whether they lived or died.

Grace When Needed

Corrie ten Boom, survivor of Ravensbruck concentration camp, once asked her father what it would be like to die. Here is how she recounts it in her book, The Hiding Place:

“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. ‘Corrie,’ he began gently, ‘when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?’

“I sniffed a few times, considering this.

“‘Why, just before we get on the train.’

“‘Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need–just in time.’”

Persecution can be subtle, as when my friend was mocked in a creative writing class for writing about her faith. Or it can be direct, as in the case of Meriam Ibrahim. My life was threatened when I ministered in the inner city of Los Angeles. I’m no hero. I’m terrified by the thought of persecution or torture. But I have told this to my God and said, “If it comes to that, give me your strength so that I remain faithful and true to you no matter what the circumstance or threat.” God has promised to supply our every need. I can only trust that, if and when it is needed, He will grant me the grace and strength to stand for Him. And therein lies my hope.

How About You?

Do you ever fear the possibility of persecution for your faith? How do you deal with that? I’d love to hear from you.