I’m a talker. That’s part of my job. I speak out, think aloud, get passionate, argue, discuss… I guess I just like the noise.
And that’s good. I’m a follower of Jesus, and I don’t think he wanted me to be quiet. If I follow his example I should be loud, with my actions and sometimes my words too. He was noisy with compassion and love, but he could also win an argument. He gave a bit of banter and went to a bunch of parties. It makes me think he wasn’t a particularly quiet chap.
It was the same with the early church. It was a vibrant, noisy mess that God used to change the world. Despite its issues, despite the fact it was led by a bunch of uneducated fisherman, it made a pretty loud impact on culture. 2000 years on and the church has been noisy enough to shape the entire western world.
It makes me think its good when us followers of Jesus make a bit of noise on God’s behalf. We can change things. We can show the world God’s love. We can share hope. We can bring life.
But for as long as the church has been trying to get loud and noisy, people have been trying to silence it. And it’s happening today.
In Eritrea the choice to follow Jesus is a choice to be persecuted. It’s a choice to accept being arrested, hassled and discriminated against. It’s means an enforced silence.
Misgana knows this well. She says “If you choose Jesus your family isolate you. The government hunts you… If you are jailed, your salary would be stopped”.
Churches are being closed. Silenced from talking about Jesus in public Christians are quietly meeting underground. Misgana says “I miss worshiping freely… singing and rejoicing loudly. But now, it’s like whispering. You want to rejoice but you can’t. But he hears our whisper, He is always with us”.
We shouldn’t fear the silence, instead we should seek it out, asking God to change us, refresh us and give us new passion.
Misgana has made me think. She knows what Elijah (a prophet in the Old Testament) experienced – that God often draws close in the silence. Elijah had an amazing opportunity – God let him come into his presence, but God wasn’t in the noise of an earthquake, the roar of a fire or the gush of the wind. Instead, he found God in the quietness of a whisper (read more about it in 1 Kings 19:10-18).
Sometimes we’re so busy getting caught up in the noise of our lives – in the constant instant messages, status updates and tweets, that we forget what silence is. We’re gradually removing silence from our lives, as if it’s something we don’t know how to deal with. But the reality is, silence gives us an opportunity to think, to be revitalised… to find God again in the whisper.
As followers of Jesus I think we’re meant to live our faith out loud. It breaks my heart that people in my church family around the world can’t even sing out their praise to God. But people like Misgana remind us that God can be found in any and every situation. We shouldn’t fear the silence, instead we should seek it out, asking God to change us, refresh us and give us new passion.
In the quiet, that is just what Misgana has discovered. In the midst of the silence her love and passion for God have just got louder and louder. She says “Someday, somehow, we will rejoice in Jesus in our hometown. That is my prayer. We are strong. God’s grace is enough for us. Jesus saves!”
Amazing. I long for the church to be as loud as it can be. I long to live as noisily for Jesus as I possibly can. But for my passion to be at its peak, maybe I need to be more like Misgana and embrace the silence a little bit more.
Spend a while being silent before God and listen out for him, not in the noise of life, but in the quietness. Ask God to protect and build up Misgana. Remember the many others like her who have no choice but to be silent about their faith.