“I was traumatized. A nearby pastor paid for me to get out of town when he discovered that Boko Haram said they made a mistake by not also killing me. Boko Haram decided later that they should have killed me because I am the daughter of an apostate Muslim mother who converted to Christianity. So the pastor paid for me to get out of that region. I fled and Jubilee Campaign helped me come to a 9/11 child survivors of terrorism camp in America. On May 15, 2013, that pastor, Rev. Faye Pama, was killed by Boko Haram in front of his kids.”
As stories like this and reports of increased Christian persecution become more prevalent in the news and on social media, we as Christians in the West should be giving serious thought to how we understand and act upon the suffering of our brothers and sisters. How are we to think about these things? What can we possibly do to help those who are being murdered and imprisoned for their faith?
If your life is like mine, it’s rather conventional for a Christian in America. I work, I’m a wife and mother, and I serve the local church. With the exception of an occasional illness or three-day weekend, life goes on in an ordinary way. My life is quite removed from things like Boko Haram and North Korean prison camps. I live in the suburbs. So what can I do? What can we do to help those for whom these things are present realities?
There are several ways that we, as ‘ordinary’ Christians, can go about standing with our brethren, including donating to organizations like International Christian Concern that seek to help the persecuted and raise awareness of their plight. We can also write to officials in our own government who have the power to influence governments that house those who persecute Christians. Dr. Russell Moore recently took such action in writing to Secretary of State John Kerry, asking him to denounce the treatment of Mariam Ibrahim by the government of South Sudan (who has since been released).
However, the strongest exhortation I can present to you is to devote yourself to prayer for the persecuted.
We so easily fall into the trap of praying as my children are wont to do, “Thank you Lord for our family and our house and the food on our table. Amen.” We are creatures given to navel-gazing, and we must must deliberately fight against this habit. It is important that we educate ourselves on the state of the global church and “remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Heb. 13:3). I cannot say strongly enough that we ought to dedicate ourselves to purposeful, daily prayer for our brothers and sisters–that they would be bold for the gospel and courageous under threat of violence, that they would not revile those who revile them, and that through their love for their enemies and each other, the light of the world would shine and those who hate Christ would be drawn to him.
One of the worst things we can do as followers of Jesus Christ is bury our heads in the sand and pretend that these things aren’t happening or believe that they are so distanced from us that we can have no impact upon the situation. It is our duty as Christians living in the West, fully armed with resources and information, to know what is going on beyond our own borders and act upon it.
It’s not my intention to say this as a guilt trip. Instead, what I want for Christ’s Bride is something that we will only fully grasp in eternity. It is my joy to think of one day gathering around the Throne of God to hear the stories of those who were martyred and imprisoned and to know, finally, how the Lord heard my prayers for their endurance and courage and made it so. I hope to look upon the face of Christ and hear, “I was in prison, and you came to me. Well done, good and faithful servant.”