Well, they are the kind of spiritual lessons none of us really hope to learn, and yet statistics show that the church is growing the fastest in areas where Christians are facing ruthless and violent persecution. Why is this happening?
Vice President of E3 partners and author of "Killing Christians" Tom Doyle helps us understand that.
When we are looking at worldwide statistics the church in the West is stagnating, and we are living here in relative peace, and security, and comfort. The church around the world that is being persecuted is growing. That doesn't make sense. Not really a good advertising campaign.
"Join the church, you'll get tortured and killed, or imprisoned"
Tom shares that it clearly is amazing that some of these that come out of the religion of Islam and embrace Jesus are told that they are likely to be persecuted. That they could died for Jesus. It is a part of their spiritual birth. They know that is an option but they gravitate toward the truth, and the light because they live in such darkness. They are willing to die for Jesus because that is the spiritual climate and atmosphere.
Here in the West we don't see it as the kind if treasure that we could be dying for. We don't want to give up our comforts. Or even the things we want for what He wants. Why do we take something so precious for granted?
We see ourselves as having an individual faith. There are 43,000 denominations globally now. Jesus said we are one. Make them one Father, for you and I are one. But there are 43,000. It is easy to segment.
There is such an appreciation that believers have say in the Gaza Strip, Baghdad and other places where they are being persecuted for each other. They don't sit around and argue about theology.
It is simple. You love Jesus, I love Jesus, let's walk together through this difficult time of persecution. That's how they live. Through that they become closer and stronger.
In the West we have tried to have faith our own way but we are seeing through the persecuted church, true commitment to Christ. People who are willing to die for Jesus.
When you look at stories in the Bible. Peter and John are thrown in prison. They say they rejoice for being counted worthy to suffer disgrace for His name. Why would you rejoice for being thrown in jail. What is that idea that you are counted worthy, chosen to suffer.
It is the highest honour, to suffer for Jesus. Suffering here is temporary. Those that suffer in eternity, that's forever. It's an honour, to live like Jesus. So many are suffering but still have tremendous joy because they are willing to give it all up for Jesus. God trusted these people with suffering that they will be faithful. That is a huge trust from Almighty God.
These people who earthly are the lowest of the low, are highly honoured by Almighty God. He trusts them. God has placed a trust in these people that they will be faithful to him.
We feel so sorry for these people and yet in the Kingdom of God they are royalty. They are heroes. They are the people that He trusts and honours with suffering. We have to change our thinking.
These persecuted people have such joy, joy in the midst of suffering.
We think of our lives with trials and tribulation. It is so easy to want to escape. Don't rush out of the suffering, there is a lesson there. Something God wants you to learn.
These people are turning suffering on its head.
They live every day to the fullest, trying to be effective for Jesus today because they don't know what tomorrow brings.
We need to stand with these people, pray for them, and learn from them about who Jesus truly is.
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