Persecution Unbounded: Ignoring the Obvious

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

From restaurants to fast-food places for breakfast, lunch and dinner seems to be a daunting task for many of us. Enjoying a multi-hyphenated concoction of coffee at a local Starbucks or perusing the Internet at incredible speed would typically be the norm for many a single adult or collegian wanting to spend a productive day reading God’s Word, while listening to the latest album by Chris Tomlin. This looks like the typical day for a Christian in the comforts of San Diego.

Easily this can lead to a reprimand of all things technological or an issue of having biblical priorities, but this isn’t the road I’m taking. The reality of persecution within the body of Christ seems to be furthest from our minds, especially since its absence in the media never makes mention of the constant attacks from many who seek to dethrone Christ’s authority within their respective countries. In the wake of the Olympics in China this past year, a slight murmur came out over the fact that many believers were, and still are, being pursued to silence from proclaiming Christ, beating, arresting, and threatening many with death. Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan, his wife and family were arrested and held in captivity in a hotel until the international athletic events had ended. Only then did people respond, as China was, for a small amount of time, under watchful eyes. Not too long after the frenzy and excitement was gone did the son of that pastor received an intense beating by Public Security Officials.

The scope of this brutality is too large for us to consider when we begin to hear some of the stories that come out from lands where to read a Bible openly or to pass tracts could lead to your potential death. Yet, this is the blessing that Jesus Christ Himself gives to anyone who hears: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

This is the hope that drew a woman, “Laila,” away from her abusive husband in the Middle East to embrace Christ as her Savior and Lord. She left and returned to her family in the United States, who were Muslims. They threatened her repeatedly to renounce Christ, which she knew she could not do. This is the result of one who truly leaves everything, their familial background and their sins, to follow Christ wholeheartedly.

Life is being given to those who are living for Jesus, cherishing their only Bible, digging into its contents and doing the work of God in countries where people can easily be taken away, and opposition is strong. The Scriptures are clear for us as well: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3). We must hurt with those who are hurting, with believers who can without difficulty lose heart in worshipping Christ openly, and without fear. We must remember their acts of courage in standing up for the truth even when no one else will, for the sake of honoring God and spreading the aroma of Christ to those who don’t believe and are unrepentent.

Learn the struggles that our brothers and sisters are facing now, at this moment. When guerilla fighters are hunting for you, is not your desire for deliverance? For their hearts to burn for Christ, and also that others would be praying for you? The Word of God has already spoken: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:29). A biblical view of loving one another must include the sharing of sufferings, theirs as well as our own. Read biographies that display lives of faithfulness in times of faithlessness like that of Esther Ahn Kim and Richard Wurmbrand. Discover ways you can support the universal church through ministries like Compassion and Voice of the Martyrs. We must take action in supporting and truly loving the brethren, as well as ours and their enemies, in ways that show Christ is more significant than our iPods. Persecution is rampant; can our love be as unbounded as Christ’s? Let’s show the world a tiny glimpse of that, and “all people will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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