God’s plan for the Middle East is “working perfectly” even though the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians is seemingly getting worse by the day, a persecuted Christian woman told American churchgoers on Sunday.…
This past Sunday, Maryam visited MeadowBrook Baptist Church in Gadsden, Alabama, and shared the story of how her father was sentenced to six months in jail after he complained to police about a Muslim man who was blocking the entrance to his store, threatening to kill him and disfigure his daughters with acid.…
As a whole, persecution and harassment are daily struggles for Middle Eastern Christians, Maryam said.
Maryam also spoke about a physical assault she suffered on her way to the airport to travel to the U.S. She said she was assaulted by Muslim men because she did not bow to strict fundamentalist standards and cover her hair.
“I was walking in the street and behind me there was three guys and they started to insult me and things like that. I just kept walking. They held these small stones and they started to throw it on me,” she said. “They shouted in a loud voice, ‘Cover your hair!’ That is what I am seeing. It’s daily life. Everyday we are facing situations and it is very hard.”
Although Christians in the west might view persecution as a bad thing, Maryam and many other Middle Eastern Christians view persecution as a necessity to help the Church continue to grow in a hostile part of the world.
“The persecution is getting worse and worse and worse,” Maryam said. “But on the other hand actually, what has encouraged me, encouraged my faith, encouraged my church, encouraged everybody Christian in [the region] is that is the Church is increasing.”
Maryam explained that while some radical Muslims are brutally killing and persecuting so called non-believers and claim to be acting in the name of Allah, many other Muslims in the Middle East are starting to open their eyes and ask serious questions about the religion they espouse.
“A lot of Muslim people now, they are so confused about what is going on now. A lot of them are asking, ‘Who is this God whose name is Allah, who orders people to slaughter?'” she said. “They are confused and they are asking and wondering now days about ISIS and about what is going on.”
“We are talking to them and asking them ‘Please, open your Quran and search what is written,'” Maryam continued.…
“We are not afraid or worried that the persecution will increase. We are just feeling that this is God’s time,” Maryam said. “God is working perfectly now in the Middle East. Even with all these crazy stuff happening, God is really working now.”
“So, I want to encourage you that, of course, you need to pray for your brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are suffering for being Christians and for their faith, but I am asking you to pray a different prayer,” Maryam encouraged the Alabama churchgoers. “Don’t pray for the persecution to be stopped. … But pray for the Christians there, for their boldness, their encouragement, for their faith and that they can all be witnesses for God’s work and for God.”
MeadowBrook Senior Pastor Randy Gunter, who visited the region and met Maryam in April, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that he also met with a well-respected Christian leader named “Paul” during his trip.
Paul told Gunter that the experiences Christians have faced since 2011 have been “amazing.”
“Do not pray for the persecution to stop; that is to pray in the wrong direction of the Bible,” Gunter recalled Paul telling him. “What God has allowed us to go through in the last five years is amazing. He has allowed a great shaking.”
“We could see the shining face of Jesus in the midst of all the chaos,” Paul added. “Christians had hope, whereas the Muslims around us did not.”
Gunter argued that many Christians in the West have the “wrong concepts about the persecuted Church.”
“Many view [persecution] as a destroying the Church, but historically and presently, God uses persecution to bring about the pure essence of hope and salvation within the Church,” Gunter wrote in an email to CP. “Many Muslims and others are coming to faith because they are witnessing the love, forgiveness and compassion of the Lord’s Church. Like all people, they long for hope. ”
Maryam will be speaking at eight different churches and venues in the U.S. over the next two weeks.
“Some people [in the U.S.] shared with me that ‘We are shy to speak to people about the Gospel or about Jesus because they might laugh at us,'” Maryam explained. “I was like, ‘Your brothers and sisters in [the Middle East], they want to evangelize but the law prevented that. But here it is allowed to speak about Jesus and sing songs. For us, it is not allowed. If we did something like that, we would be in jail.'”
“You have to be very awake because there is no time to waste,” Maryam stressed. “The persecution has penetrated the U.S. and penetrated Europe now.”
The Bible reads in the end time there will be a lot of believers who will be martyred for Jesus’ sake: (Revelation 20:4) “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
This is not the mindset of a lot of Christians in the west, especially with the focus-on-self-prosperity preaching popular in many churches. The fact is, the vast majority of Christians in the west have never faced persecution or the possibility of martyrdom for Jesus’ sake. From what I have gathered is that the early church grew rapidly in the midst of persecution and martyrdom until Constantine married the church with Rome. Could this be one of the possible reason why there has been no real revival in the west? In the 2nd century, Tertullian that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church (Apologeticus, Chapter 50).” The more Christians were persecuted, the more Christianity spread. To make martyrs of Christians does nothing more than to spread the message of the eternal Gospel. I guess when unbelievers see Christians suffering or dying for their faith, it ignites interest because most people will only go through so much unless they knew it was true.
One writer wrote:
Letter to Diognetus, AD 80 – 200
“Christians … love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honor; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life. They are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.” (ch. 5)
“Don’t you see them exposed to wild beasts for the purpose of persuading them to deny the Lord, yet they are not overcome? Don’t you see that the more of them that are punished, the greater the number of the rest becomes? This does not seem to be the work of man. This is the power of God. These are the evidences of his appearance.” (ch. 7)
“When you despise that which is considered to be death here, then you shall fear what is truly death, which is reserved for those who shall be condemned to the eternal fire, which shall afflict to the end those that are committed to it. Then shall you admire those who for righteousness’ sake endure the fire that is but for a moment, and you shall count them happy when you understand that fire.” (ch. 10)
Ignatius of Antioch, AD 110
“The believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in readiness to die into his suffering, his life is not in us.” (Letter to the Magnesians 5)
“May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me. I pray that they would be found eager to rush at me, and I will also entice them to devour me speedily and not deal with me as some, whom out of fear they have not touched. If they are unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me; I know what is to my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple. Let no one, of things visible or invisible, prevent me from attaining to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocation of bones; let cutting off of limbs; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the evil torments of the devil come upon me; only let me attain to Jesus Christ.” (Letter to the Romans 5)
And another wrote:
Justin Martyr, c. AD 150
“And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom. Instead, we speak of that which is with God, as can be shown from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, even though they know that death is the punishment awarded to those who so confess. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we would deny our Christ, so that we might not be killed. We would try to escape detection, so that we might obtain what we hope for. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since death is a debt which must at all events be paid.” (First Apology 11)
They must have really taken into heart what Jesus said that “…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
In the Book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had so much love and faith for God they were willing to be burned alive in a fiery furnace (Dan. Ch. 3) and this was long before Jesus sent the gift of the Holy Spirit – the Helper. Do a lot of Christians in the west have that much love and faith for God?
What’s interesting is that Jesus actually says who suffer for His namesake are blessed: “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” – Matthew 10:39
Paul wrote: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” – Philippians 1:29
The followers of Jesus actually rejoiced when they suffered for their Lord: “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” – Acts 19:6
Do we love our life so much that we made it an idol? Are we willing to give it up for Jesus? “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” -Matthew 10:39
I guess Joel Osteen got it wrong. Our best life shouldn’t be now.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can receive Him into your heart, and He can deliver you from darkness and sin and have your name written in His Book of Life.
If you are sincere, you can say this simple prayer to the Father (it doesn’t have to be word for word):
“God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. Please forgive me of all of my sins just as I forgive others. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross, I believe in my heart Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in the Lord and GOD Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.”