In this edition I have reprinted a recent article by Julian Dobbs, the Honorary Director of Barnabas Aid, USA. This article clearly explains the situation of the persecuted Church and what we can do about it:
“Christians around the world are suffering for their faith today in ever increasing numbers. Headlines in many newspapers describe horriﬁc acts of violence against Christian minorities. For example, labelled the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, the conﬂict in Syria has now entered its ﬁfth year. An entire generation of children is growing up with no experience of a peaceful existence. In Nigeria, more people have been killed by Boko Haram than have died in the entire ebola epidemic and the bloodletting seems to be only getting worse. In Kenya, Al-Shabaab militants laughed and taunted their young victims and separated Christians from Muslims in a day-long raid on Kenya’s Garissa University in which 148 people were killed.
The reports keep coming! The question is, “Why?” “Why is the suffering of Christians increasing in our world?” The Bible helps us to understand that the persecution of God’s people will signiﬁcantly increase the closer we come to the return of Jesus Christ. In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 24, Jesus teaches his disciples about the pressure and trials that will be experienced by them prior to his return. Our Lord warns us of these circumstances, not to frighten us, but in order to encourage us to stand ﬁrm in the faith no matter what the cost.
We must also ask, “Why are Christians prepared to suffer and die as a result of their faith in Jesus Christ?” Again, the Bible helps us to understand why Christians are willing to give their lives for their faith. The word martyr comes from a word which means witness [in Greek martyrion]. It was ﬁrst used to describe the early Christians who under duress chose death rather than denying the lordship of Christ. This same tenacity is exhibited by thousands of Christians today who faithfully declare the lordship of this same “Jesus Christ. We need to ask ourselves profound questions about that remarkable point of intersection between faith and death.
Why do they do it?
Writing to the church gathered in Smyrna, modern day Izmir, Turkey, Jesus said, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer… Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10) Jesus calls his disciples to a life of faithfulness to Himself, no matter what the cost!
Our suffering brothers and sisters whose testimonies you read in this edition of Barnabas Aid are the modern day heroes of our faith who daily take up their cross and follow Christ, no matter what the cost!
Blessed Lord God, hear us now as we pray to you. Grant us grace to stand ﬁrm in the faith and to gladly follow you with all our lives.
In Christ’s name. Amen.”