Friday, May 8, 2015

Pray for today's persecuted church

(My 17th Radio Christian Voice Commentary for 2015)

Pictures of students murdered at Garissa University College in Kenya

I am currently in Kenya speaking at the Scott Christian University's golden jubilee graduation ceremony. The fact that I am visiting a university in Kenya reminds me of the massacre that recently took place at Garissa University College.

In case you missed the news, about a month ago the al-Shabab Islamic terrorist group from Somalia attacked Garissa University College in the early hours of the morning and killed over 140 students in cold blood. They deliberately singled out Christian students.

The first target was an early morning prayer meeting, where almost all the Christians present were killed. Students were then dragged out of their dormitories by masked gunmen and told to recite Muslim prayers. If they failed to do so, they were shot on the spot.

There have been similar executions of Christians in Libya by ISIS, another Islamic terrorist group. In February it was Egyptian Coptic Christians and more recently it was Ethiopian Christians who were killed simply because they claimed to be Christians.

These are only three recent cases of mass killings where it was obvious the victims were being ruthlessly slaughtered because they were Christians. What are we to think about all this? This question is pertinent because these incidents are increasing by the day.

We must remind ourselves, Jesus warned his disciples that this was going to happen to them after his departure. He said in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

From the time of the martyrdom of Stephen recorded for us in the Book of Acts all the way to the conversion of Emperor Constantine around 300 AD, Christians were hunted like wild animals. It is a wonder that the Christian Faith continued to spread despite all this.

What is happening today, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, should not surprise us. Many of us are sheltered from this harsh reality. We think it strange that our brothers and sisters live each day under the threat of martyrdom. It should not surprise us!

Having reminded ourselves that this is the normal Christian life, we must pray for the persecuted church. No doubt, they themselves must surely be praying for their circumstances to change. We must join their cries to God that he may quench the flames of persecution.

Sadly, this is rarely happening. Our prayers are still about God fixing our broken toenails. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:26, if one member of the body suffers then all suffer together. Or as Paul said to the Colossians in 4:18, “Remember my chains.”


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