by Joy Casey
JEALOUS OF PERSECUTION?
The radiant joy of an Arab Christian sister was contagious and I stepped away from the webcast inspired and renewed. Mesagab* and her husband serve as pastors in an extremely dangerous M*slim country. She said several things that resonated because I have heard our missionaries in Ethiopia express similar sentiments. She said, “I have no time for fear! Think of where fear comes from and the destructive purposes fear creates. Here in my country we are used to facing the possibility death every day. Covid-19 is nothing; we are used to death threats.”
*not her real name
She has a burdened heart for her M*slim countrymen and with wisdom, perseverance and fearlessness their church is building God’s kingdom in a war-torn, dangerous place. “We see miracles and have joy in what God is doing every day… you should be jealous of us Arab Christians!”
GOING TO BED WITH A MOSQUITO?
One of our missionaries once described evangelism as ‘going to bed with a mosquito’. The buzz of that tiny insect can keep a person awake and drive him nuts until he finally gets out of bed and does something about it.
Planting seeds of doubt with strategic questions, whetting appetites with the hope of the Gospel message, expressing kindness and generosity in practical service, forgiving when beaten and insulted… all are little mosquitos that tenaciously draw M*slims from the “maybe (inshallah)” of Islam to eternal life with Christ where there are no maybes.
“Be safe!” is a common refrain these days. The oft reiterated phrase seems to place safety as the highest human priority. After reading the books by Nik Ripkin, The Insanity of God, The Insanity of Obedience, and now beginning The Insanity of Suffering, experientially and scripturally it is pretty clear that personal safety is not God’s ultimate agenda for His people.
I think most American Christians, myself included, have bought into this safety-first mindset. Can I be so bold to say that right next to safety, comfort is a high value for us Westerners? A study by LifeWay Research shows that 80% of Christians attending church one or more times a month feel a personal responsibility to share their faith, yet 61% have never told another person how to become a Christian. Most cite fear of rejection as a main reason. Nik Ripkin makes a poignant point, “Why would Satan wake up the U.S. Church through persecution when he has effectively shut us up?”
A friend of mine was fearful to attend a prayer march in Washington D.C. because of safety concerns. Then she thought about the missionary she supports in Ethiopia and all he and others face daily because of their faith and was ashamed of her hesitancy. She decided to be counted among those praying for our nation in D.C. on that day.
There is one surefire way to avoid suffering and/or persecution: never, ever share the Good News of Christ. I am glad that our bold, persistent missionaries have not chosen the “be safe” path. In the midst of unprecedented violence and hatred against Christians in Ethiopia, Christ-followers continue to address people’s fears and anxiety with God’s Word, prayer and steadfastness. I want to be like them.