Lessons from the persecuted Church

Of all the people and all the conversations I had on a recent trip to meet with refugees in Jordan Iraq, it was the one with the white, Christian, American guy on the way back to the airport that troubled me the most.

A little context first; when Luke was a twentysomething on the verge of graduation he had pretty solid plan for the rest of his life; make a ton of money, buy a big boat and fish as much as possible. Trouble was, while he loved boats and fishing, his heart just wasn’t in the corporate world. So he made about the most dramatic 180 possible; Luke began working among persecuted Christians in Sudan.

A decade on and he’s working among persecuted Christians in one of the most risky countries in the world.

He’s loving it, of course.

But what got me was the way that – after ten years among some of the most courageous, generous, gracious Christians on the planet – his perspective had changed.  

“I’ve seen that ISIS is awful – terrorism taken to a whole new level. It’s evil, yet God’s kingdom is growing like never before in Iraq, and it’s the same in other countries too. When people try to destroy the church it grows exponentially. The church grows when we face adversity.

“In a weird sort of way, it’s a blessing to face persecution. I’ve met thousands of Christians that have been persecuted for their faith and I’ve seen that there’s a strength of faith that only comes out of having to rely on God. That only comes out of having to face persecution. Pastors are saying the same thing here – that Christians in Iraq were fat, dumb and happy. They were affluent, no need for God, they were Christians more by identity than by relationship. But now it’s when you lose everything that you find out that you turn to God and really start talking to Him. That might be when you’re persecuted or when you get cancer – that’s when God shows up.”

“Living in Iraq I look at the west and wonder if satan’s tactic for keeping God out is by providing comfort, by giving so many riches and wealth that people feel like they do not need God. Satan knows what our weaknesses are – and that’s the capitalist dream, to stand on your own two feet and do it all on your own. There are good things about that but it’s a twist on ‘you don’t really need God.’

“God is not OK with his people just getting by. He seems to move us out of our comfort zones and put us in situations where we do have to rely on him. It’s part of his relational nature. He created us for something more than being fat, dumb and happy.”

Fat, dumb and happy. Surely the same couldn’t be said of us.

Could it?

This article is written by Craig Borlase and can be found here.

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