The world is tentatively waking up to the reality of persecution. In May the media story around the missing 200 teenage girls blew up and went viral. The mainly Christian pupils were kidnapped by Boko Haram, a terrorist group who oppose western education, and consider Christians enemies of Islam. Videos show that many of the girls have been forced to give up their faith.
The reality of what is happening in Northern Nigeria is finally hitting home to the wider world. Boko Haram have been looting, killing and kidnapping in the region for years, and throughout May bombs killed hundreds in the largely Christian towns of Jos and Alagarno. It really is pretty shocking, and though Christians aren’t the only targets, they are definitely high on the long list of Boko Haram’s most wanted.
Along with the stories from Sudan about Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a pregnant 27 year old doctor who was sentenced to death for refusing to deny her faith in Jesus, the reality of persecution is beginning to fuel anger not just in the church but in the wider world too.
And that is a really good thing, but these are just two stories amongst hundreds, thousands, maybe millions. The challenge for us is to keep waking ourselves up to what is happening to followers of Jesus all over the world.
These two tragic stories have connected with us. It isn’t just that 200 people have been kidnapped, but that they were teenagers studying for exams. They were taken from their families. We’ve seen their parents’ despair, and can imagine the fear the girls faced. These girls wouldn’t be out of place in our schools or colleges; they really aren’t that different to us. We’ve made the connections between us and them and we’re outraged.
But the connections exist between us and Christians all over the world too. As followers of Jesus we’re not just joined to those whose lives relate a bit to ours. We’re connected to all who call God Father – all who’ve prayed that Jesus would be their friend and king. And that means secret Christians in North Korea or Iran, who we know very little about.
It’s harder to imagine or understand their stories, especially when information is limited. These countries are pretty secretive, and often Christians there are just as keen to keep their activities hidden as the governments that might target them. But we’re all part of God’s church, we’re one body, one family and we’re a big part of God’s plan to bring hope to the world. So, it’s time to wake up, to connect and do what we can for our church family who risk everything for Jesus.
Brother Andrew felt God put those words from Revelation 3:2 on his heart when he started smuggling Bible’s into the old Soviet Union back in 1955. That was the beginning of Open Doors God is still challenging us in the West with that passage today. The church around the world is dying – literally – as Christians face all sorts of shocking situations. Eun Hee’s story is extraordinary, but sadly it’s one that isn’t un-common. We may struggle to connect with her life or situation, but we can connect with and be inspired by her bravery, passion and relentless commitment to Jesus.
God’s asking us to wake up. He wants us to make a stand for justice and to help the church be all it can be. We can respond – we can pray, we can act and we can be inspired by people like Eun Hee to give all we have for the one who gave it all for us.
Up for the challenge? From 15th Sept to 20th Oct, we’ll send you a weekly early-morning wake up email. Sign up at www.opendoorsyouth/itstime and we’ll also send you our ‘Wake Up and Pray’ guide to help connect with, and pray for, people who are persecuted for following Jesus.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.