This past Sunday while at church, I happened to see a stack of newsletters, The Voice of the Martyrs on our welcome table. It was free, so I grabbed one. I am sorry that I did, so sorry that I did; for it revealed to me how woefully in debt I am.
I first read the editor’s letter reminding us Christians that we are a part of a large family, and therefore should be deeply concerned about our Christian brothers and sisters who are daily facing fear of, and realized persecution, for their faith. They must always be ready to die for their faith.
Then I read Regina’s story. I believe that was her name. I don’t even want to pick up the newsletter again to confirm because her story made me see on the one hand how eternally grateful I am for my life, and at the same time how I fall so terribly short.
Regina lives in a part of Africa where she had to be willing to die for her faith. She had purposely made the decision that if and when confronted; she would not deny that she was a Christian. The “when” did come. For one day, the Boko Haram, militant Islamic group did come to her village and captured her and her family.
They did ask them whether they were Christians or Muslims and tried to convert them to the Muslim faith. She did not deny her faith. However, the militant Islamic group ended up taking her sixteen year old son, and beheaded him with a machete.
She and the rest of her family survived, but she has to be tortured daily with the haunting memories of her son, her baby. She says her only comfort is in knowing that he was a Christian. She says that she knows she has to forgive them, but is having a hard time forgetting. I don’t think it is something you do forget.
Her story is haunting to me, but for how long? Here I am living a life of relative comfort and ease. Why?
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. Acts 17:26 NIV
God placed me in a land where I am free to pray, free to have my own personal Bible study, free to go to church, and free to share the gospel. Yet just how often am I burdened for my brothers and sisters who live in foreign lands that have to be ready to die for their faith?
Some go to these foreign lands, leaving their comforts behind, just to spread the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of men for the kingdom. They live in conditions that are less than favorable among the people to whom they minister.
Yes, I am in debt. I know that we aren’t all called to the mission fields, but we are all called to pray for our brothers and sisters, and that goes beyond the four walls of our church.
Wednesday night at Bible Study/Prayer, I heard one young man remind us how we must pray for the people we no longer see in our church. Why should we be reminded to care?
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 KJV
By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 KJV
After reading Regina’s story, I felt what can be sort of compared to “survivor’s complex” because I almost feel guilty that I should live so comfortably, even though I know that where I live is a part of God’s plan. However, my duty to love my brothers and sisters in the faith wherever they are, to fervently pray for them, and for the work of kingdom should always be my burden.
It is my prayer that the weight of my debt will guide how I live my life and give me the boldness to share the gospel of Christ in my sphere of influence for that is what I am obligated to do.