Persecution

I’m not a prophet in any sense of the word.  I’m just a sinner saved by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ His Son.  But I do believe that persecution of Christians is coming to America, in fact is already here.  Churches in several states have been closed down under over-bearing COVID guidelines.  Some churches and pastors have been fined thousands of dollars for just holding church!!  It’s happening in other countries that “normally” don’t see this kind of move against churches and pastors; Canada for one.  Three pastors have been cuffed and taken to jail for “disobeying health restrictions” by holding church.

Yes, persecution is coming.

Todd Nettleton with The Voice of The Martyrs wrote an op-ed in the westernjournal.com.  He has interviewed hundreds of persecuted Christians during his 20 plus years with VOM.  He gives three ways Christians can prepare for persecution:

1. Persecuted Christians get ready because they decided to get ready.
Part of getting ready is acknowledging that persecution may come, that I, myself, may have to pay a price for what I believe.
We like to think of the cross as a beautiful symbol we wear on a chain around our neck, but when Jesus told his followers to take up their cross and follow him, (Matt. 16:24) they understood the cross as a method of brutal torture and execution. Jesus also told his followers to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28) ahead of time.

2. Persecuted Christians get ready by knowing God’s Word.
Glenn Penner, the late director of VOM Canada, wrote that “The Bible (especially the New Testament) was written by persecuted believers to persecuted believers.” What better textbook to prepare for persecution could there be?
The Bible speaks directly to the trials Christians will face, and it instructs us on how to respond — by loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.

3. Persecuted Christians get ready by watching and learning from those who’ve already suffered.
Chinese Christians like Elder Zhang are familiar not only with Biblical examples like Peter and Paul but also the faithful examples of their own countrymen, like Watchman Nee, Pastor Samuel Lamb or Pastor Allen Yuen.

I also recommend the book “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken.  Nik and Ruth have traveled in 70 countries and witnessed first-hand the persecution of Christians, how they cope, and how faith thrives under persecution.

Western Christians (American Christians, especially) have no idea of what real persecution can be (until these past 14 months, and even that is nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters in some countries endure).

A brother told me “we must be ready to preach, pray, or die at a moments notice.”

God told Joshua as he prepared to lead the Hebrew children into the promised land:

   8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We must count the cost.  Deepen our commitment.  Study and learn the Word.   Hold fast to the promises of God.

Be prepared for persecution, and more wonderfully, be ready when Christ returns to gather God’s children.

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