March 12, 2014

A Compelling Message

Throughout history nations have fought fiercely against each other and civil wars have raged within countries for one reason or another.  Millions of lives have been lost in these conflicts; some died as soldiers fighting for a cause they believed in, others because they were forced into military service, and still others because they were innocent victims caught in the middle of a battle.  If you follow the news you may be aware of current war zones in various regions of the world, but are you aware that there is an ongoing ‘world war’ that is escalating on a global scale? 

It is a case of multiple aggressors who are not working in cooperation with one another, but have chosen a common conquest to target.  It is a worldwide war on Christians and it is an attempt to totally wipe out a belief system and its effects on society.  The areas of greatest intensity in this war are in Asia, northern Africa and the Middle East, but it exists to some degree everywhere.  Unfortunately too many Christians in the west are unaware of how severe the persecution of Christians is in some parts of the world and are even complacent about the growing threat against Christianity in traditional religious freedom strongholds like North America.  Whether at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, Hindu radicals, or Buddhist extremists, many of The Tide listeners who embrace the message of salvation face legal oppression, social harassment, physical violence and even death.  Letters from our listeners in Africa and Asia often contain heartbreaking descriptions of persecution, but it is amazing and inspiring how often those same letters contain compassion and concern for the salvation of their persecutors.  Many of these persecuted believers are more concerned for their antagonists’ salvation than their own safety.  It is an indication that people have truly grasped and embraced the gospel when they actively put into practice the commands of Jesus to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us and to pray for people who persecute us.  This is crucial to transforming pagan enemies into believing disciples. 

Standing firm in our faith while also responding Biblically with love and prayer are our most powerful means of withstanding and overcoming the intensifying global assault on the Body of Christ, but we can also engage in other peaceful ways. For example in one area where there was tension between Muslims and Christians The Tide ministry partners in Nigeria organized a community meal for all to attend at the close of the last Ramadan season.  This was not done to endorse and validate the Muslim custom of Ramadan, but to bring people together and foster the building of amicable relationships between people of two opposing religious viewpoints.  These same ministry partners were later invited to participate in an interfaith conference for peace in Nigeria when the Nigerian Government declared a state of emergency to help deal with terrorist activities of Boko Haram, a fanatical Islamic group funded outside Nigeria that had infiltrated Nigeria’s Northeast border and has been credited with killing hundreds of Christians.  Here in North America we can engage in similar ways and encourage our governing authorities to advocate for true freedom of religion.  Most of you reading this article may never know more than benign social stigma or political and legal challenges to the free expression of your faith, but the church planter martyred in India, the pastor imprisoned in Iran, the church members gunned down in Nigeria – the list could go on and on – are our brothers and sister, and they are relying on us to stand firm with them in their devotion to the only true God and His Son Christ Jesus. 

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