When I was 10 I was a fearless gutsy evangelist. A Billy Graham in the making… OK maybe not quite on that level.
To be honest I was a bit forceful with it. I had a friend called Lisa and she used to come round for tea regularly. I’d make her play football in the garden, and one time I remember telling her about being a Christian and believing in God. I suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders and said ‘Lisa, you’ve got to become a Christian. You’ve just got to!’ I eventually let go of her after leading her in a prayer.
The poor girl must have been scared stiff, and I dread to think what she told her parents when she got home. I’m cringing now at the thought. A soul shaken into the kingdom! Bible bashing got a result, well sort of.
My motives were spot on, but my methods were on the aggressive side. I look back and smile at the 10 year old me so keen so urgent in wanting to see my mates hear about Jesus and accept him. Fast forward a couple of years and things were a bit different, the risk taking was gone. I was quieter about my faith. A lot quieter. No more shaking people to accept Jesus. No literal bible bashing.
I had a friend at school, who was a year or so younger than me, who also attended my church. And one day, I remember her words really vividly – they cut pretty deep, she said, ‘Emma you’re really different at school to how you are at church.’ Ouch. I thought about it, and had to agree. I wasn’t keen on letting my mates know about Jesus. I fell into a habit of using words my mum would have been horrified at, just to look cool.
I was kind of living two lives. I had fallen into the trap of having just a Sunday Jesus. I rattled off all the Bible quiz answers in Sunday school, I memorised bible verses til they were coming out my ears. I even earned a fiver for learning the 10 Commandments off by heart. Knowledge was all there. But I didn’t what to share it. In fact I was embarrassed by it all.
But that simple honest provocative statement by my friend began to do something. I began to change. A fresh resolve. At secondary school I helped lead my school CU. Numbers were low, and most weeks the cooler kids didn’t make it along. Yes I even put up little posters to advertise it.
At sixth form college I surpassed that by plastering the CU notice board with a massive poster I made with the verse ‘What must I do to be saved? Believe in The Lord Jesus and you’ll be saved.’ Style wise maybe not the best moves, and yet a few of my mates from school and college did become Christians. I even dragged a teacher along to church a few times.
Now I’d quite like a bit of the younger me. The raw innocence, simple faith and the desire to see people changed. I took more risks – small steps and choices – and believed that God could do way more and multiple those efforts.
It’s a bit like that with the persecuted church. In the world’s eyes they’re an ordinary, foolish bunch of nobodies and yet their risk taking changes lives.
I remember when I first heard about Nurta. I was left pretty much speechless. She was 17 and from Somalia, one of the craziest and dangerous places on earth. If you become a Christian there you pretty much write your own death sentence. Nurta did just that.
When her Muslim parents found out about her new faith they were livid. They were so angry they made her a prisoner in her own home. They snatched her freedom, but they couldn’t take away her love for Jesus. In the day time Nurta was shackled to a tree in the blazing sunshine, at night they locked her up in a shed. For the next few months they beat Nurta, they gave her drugs to alter her mind.
But Nurta refused to deny Jesus! She wouldn’t go back. In the end gunmen were hired and they shot her dead. Nurta risked everything for Jesus.
I want to be like a Nurta, I want to be like a younger me. I want to to take this risk taking Christianity seriously because it really matters. But don’t worry no one will be physically injured in the process (my bashing days are over).
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.