‘In the last days the hearts of many will grow cold’ - these words in surveying my week has almost ringed to be true. Cold towards what? Towards Christ and his church. Much of it has been due to the overwhelming influence of worldliness and sins in my own soul. But it is not entirely frozen; praise be to God for his mercy and for putting his defibrillator to my chest to awaken in me a cry - that is, a heart felt passion and anguish for my suffering brothers and sisters in this Christ soon completely redeemed world.
Recently in my own country of Nigeria, multitudes of Christians have perished at the hands of terrorist, and the militant Islamist group Boko Haram has issued a warning to all Christians in Northern Nigeria to flee given them three days to leave otherwise they will further their attacks. The Nigerian government has sworn to act with the President Goodluck Jonathan vowing to crush the group.
Many in the middle east are undergoing an exodus on a massive scale. In Tunisia, priest are being murdered, in Uganda acid was thrown on a bishop, in Natoo village four leaders of the church was warned that if they refuse to give up their faith they would be evicted. In Indonesia anti-Christian incidents nearly doubled in 2011. In Beijing Forty-eight members of the Beijing congregation were arrested because they met outside; in Saudi Arabia the newly crowned prince headed the religious police for many years. In Sudan persecution increases, in Somalia, Muhammad a convert to Christianity had his house burnt down by al-Shabaab militia. How many more persecutions are happening but never make the news?
Persecution is no new news to Christianity but what is is the lack of solidarity or heart felt sorrow towards those being persecuted. I cannot speak of statistics but I can speak of my own life. Although I do pray for many persecuted Christians it is often casual and are soon forgotten. At times my heart goes out towards them but it is not enough. My heart should be as that of the Apostle Paul who said ‘And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches’ 2cor 11:28. I pray that this too will weigh heavy upon our hearts.
I thank all of the organizations and people who are employed in this duty of helping and seeking the welfare of many persecuted Christians - I pray that this may be all of our concerns. Let us tarry in prayer for them and give as we are able to remembering that they are part of the same body and their master is the same as ours.
I pray for the governments of the west to act and take an active action in eliminating this threat. But we do not pray for their death but for their conversion, for their welfare to have an ideology of love and mercy.
With a heart of deep compassion for my brothers and sisters in Christ, it becomes extremely difficult to party when so many of them are suffering. But I do remember those words of our Lord Jesus Christ Matthew 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”