“I would rather die than do something which I know to be a sin, or to be against God’s will.”
– Joan of Arc
A few weeks ago (November sixth and the thirteenth) was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I received an email from Blog for Asia on the twenty-first of November imploring me to write a post and make my readers aware of the intense persecution followers of Christ face in countries around the world. I haven’t written a Blog for Asia post in a while, for which I regret. But, I couldn’t let this one go. It has been literally pounding in my heart and has not been silenced ever since I received the email.
So, I read a story.
It was a story that was not meant to be kept to oneself. It was a story meant to be shared. It was the story of a man. A man imprisoned for believing in the one true God.
His name was Roshan*. As a boy, he called himself a Christian, but never truly entered into a personal relationship with Christ. Despite this, he became the president of his youth group and the secretary of his church. In the village that he lived were a group of rebels who put an impending danger upon the hearts of all the villagers, including Roshan and his newlywed wife, Lalasa*. They fled to a village one hundred fifty miles away. In this village, Roshan and his wife became the parents of a son and a daughter. With more mouths to feed, Roshan was overwhelmed. He felt the need for a change.
When Roshan’s brother, Aran*, came home on break from Bible College, he would tell his brother often of the love Christ had for him. Suddenly, Roshan, along with his family, knew what change needed to be made. Roshan enrolled in Bible College. While there, he listened to many missionaries share their stories of the field. The more and more he listened to them, he too wanted to be a missionary and put his life on the line to share the love of Christ with others. That was exactly what he did.
He became a missionary and moved to a village. However, he was completely unaware that the same members of the rebel group he had fled from many years ago were scattered among the inhabitants of this village. But still, he went.
During the first year, he and his message were mocked at and shamed. It wasn’t until the year had passed, that Roshan’s endurance paid off. His ministry began to prosper and lives were changed. He began construction on a church.
Midway through the construction of the church, falsehoods about Roshan began to spread. Unknown to him, many said he was a member of the rebel group that resided in the village. While at the grocery store, Roshan was taken by police, asked questions, and before he could realize what was happening, was thrown into a cell. Lalasa continued construction on the church whilst her husband was away and frequently went to visit him.
While in prison, Roshan ministered to his fellow prisoners and began a prison ministry.
After two and a half years of life behind bars, Roshan was liberated. Him and Lalasa haven’t ceased to support and uphold their community in Christ. They are very aware of the risk they take, but they are even more aware that what they believe is worth any persecution they could ever face.
*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.
What do you feel? I know after I read Roshan’s story I felt almost ashamed. The price of Christianity is so much higher in other places in the world than it is here in America. The consequences of Christianity that millions face include shame, public embarrassment, called a lunatic, torture, and death. It made me think of the story of Joan of Arc.
One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
– Joan of Arc
Now, you must know that Joan of Arc is my very favorite female figure in European history. Called by the age of thirteen by God to lead the people of France to freedom from the people of England, she was burned at the stake for witchcraft and heresy by the English at the age of nineteen. She triumphed victoriously and had the prince/dauphin of France crowned King, just as she said she would. Soon after she was burned, the Hundred Years’ War ended and France was free from English force.
I feel that Joan is my very best friend, and when I heard what modern folks say about her, I wanted to avenge her. Today, Joan still burns on the stake of Hollywood, society, and history. Many make her look like a superstitious, raving lunatic who was never chosen by God at all but coincidentally.
It’s stories like Roshan’s and Joan’s that puts our lives into perspective. I was chosen for this task: the task of making my readers realize the excruciating and horrifying truth: millions around the world on this very day are tortured and imprisoned for their faith. They are mocked, laughed at, and made helpless.
Friends, it is our duty to pray fervently for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted daily for their faith. For that is who they are: our brothers and our sisters who live a world away from us. Men like Roshan are our brothers and women like Joan are our sisters. As their Christian family, we have an obligation to support them and stand with them in prayer. That is just what the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is all about. Yet, it should not just be observed for two days in November, but everyday, for everyday they suffer.
Guys, I know I’m not usually this gloomy, but this must be something we all should be aware of. I urge and beseech you immaculately to pray regularly for our brothers and sisters who endure indescribable plights for the cross of Christ.
Join me in praying for at least five minutes a day for the persecuted brethren.
They are people just like you and me. Burning inside with a fiery passion for Christ, yet they are in danger for proclaiming it. What if that was me? Wouldn’t I be comforted to know that somewhere, across the ocean, a Christian just like me is praying for me and my family.
Let us pray,