I am reading a book about the persecuted church right now (that i will be writing a review for in about a month, when it is released) and I can’t help but wonder if we are the ones missing out. The more stories I hear about believers in places like Somalia, Iran, Iraq and other places where believers are severely persecuted, the more it seems that things happen there that do not happen here. It seems that Jesus appearing in dreams is a common thing there and can often be one of the first things that leads to a person learning who he even is and deciding to follow him.
As I read yet another story of this I can’t help but feel a longing to know what that is like. I don’t want to sound ignorant of the struggles and dangers these people face on a daily basis, many even end up as martyrs or seeing friends or family die as martyrs. It isn’t a life anyone would ask for and I am so very thankful for the freedom we have here to worship without fear. At the same time I can’t help but think about a few things:
I can’t help but think of the churches in Revelation that John writes to. The only like churches that aren’t rebuked are the ones who are suffering great persecution. They don’t have time for “Sunday morning faith” or “lukewarm Christianity”. When it is life and death your faith is either everything to you or you don’t bother. Their faith is strong, it is tested and true. They know they will hear “well done good and faithful servant” when they see Jesus face to face.
I can’t help but think that we are missing out of what the church really is. Over there the church is a family a very real representation of the body. They don’t bicker over music styles or preaching styles or what colour to paint the building. They don’t fight over all the stupid things we fight over in churches here.
We live in a tiny town and this week Caleb and I counted, we have six churches in our tiny, one stop light town. Six! Most don’t even teach the truth at all. Six churches and yet our area is the drug and alcohol capital of our entire province, almost anyone you ask will say they are “Christian” but most have no idea what that means. We are overrun by churches and we are missing out big time on what the church really is.
I can’t help but be a little bit jealous that I have never had Jesus appear to me in a dream. I have then luxury of owning more Bibles than I can could carry at one time and have so much access to truth that there is really no reason for Him to. It is an awesome privilege to have so much but because of that I think i miss out on the longing for more, the feeling of treasuring something so valuable, you risk your life to even own and read it.
Within arms reach at this very moment I have three Bibles and that isn’t including the online or app versions that are on the IPad I am typing on. If one got lost I could grab another, if my house burned down I could buy a new one at one of many stores nearby. I can’t even fathom how they feel holding that precious book you risked your life to get or to borrow one from someone else to fill you hunger because you can’t get your own but are desperate to read it.
There is one name all of us know, in a sea of unknown persecuted Christians about the world. There is one name that almost all North Americans know, Saeed, put in prison for his faith in one of the worst prisons in Iran – in mortal danger every day. He is a face and a name amid so many unknowns. He is a daily reminder of all the others whose names we don’t know, whose faces we don’t see on Facebook and Twitter. We can pray for him, for others like him whose names we don’t know. We can pray for his family and their families. We can help them bear the burden through prayers.
Something else cool, if you want something a bit more tangible as well you can send a Christmas card or just a card of encouragement to Saeed at the prison. it is a small thing, postage might cost you a couple bucks depending on where you mail it from but it is something you can do to help bear the burdens others face for Christ. (Please read the rules on the Facebook group to assure Saeed’s safety when you write)