Can You Hear Them?
Can you hear them? If you close your eyes and listen, you may be able to. They are whispering, “What does it feel like to attend church freely? Where is a safe place to hide my Bible? What do I say if someone asks if I am a Christian?” These questions seem strange to the average American, because we live in a country that practices freedom of religion. We live in a country where we can lift our hands and voices to God without fear of retribution or death. Yet, we are the minority. For Christians living in India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Vietnam, Egypt, and China these are real questions that they must ask themselves every day. These are Christians whose faith is so strong that they awake each morning knowing that torture, imprisonment, or death—is imminent. Yet, they do not fold. They do not back down. They proclaim their faith with boldness, because they know how temporal this life is. These are Christians who in the throes of death–pray for their persecutors. As angry fundamentalists with bloodshot eyes hover over them—knives pressed to their throats—our brothers and sisters in Christ do not flinch. Instead they whisper, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34). Do you hear them yet?
In the past 20 years, 200 million Christians have been killed for their faith in Christ. As we rush around complaining about rising gas prices, an Indonesian Christian village is being burned by fanatic Muslims. While we shake our heads in frustration at the cost of food, a six-year-old Christian girl is having her stomach slit open and an elderly man of faith is being burned to death. As we anxiously anticipate summer vacations Vietnam officials are confiscating the home of an evangelist; an Egyptian woman is being detained for converting to Christianity; a house church is being raided in Beijing; and Bangladeshi Muslims, in an effort to rid the area of a Christian pastor, gang rape his 13-year-old daughter. These are our Christian brothers and sisters who are crying out for help. Can you hear them? Are their prayers reverberating in your ears?
As Americans we have been blessed with freedom—we have it in the palm of our hands. With this freedom we have the power to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. As they kneel in secret and silent prayer, the entire Body of Christ shakes. Tears flow as we take on the pain that reverberates down the Vine. Our bodies ache as another mother dies, as a cross is torn from a neck, as a Bible is slashed to pieces, and as a church goes up in flames. Yet, amidst this chaos our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ close their eyes and pray, “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer,” (Psalm 4:1). Can you hear them now?