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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Willing to Give All

By Omar Beiler
Nov. 2, 2014

Christians around the world suffer in a variety of ways.  This fact is probably no more evident than in Eurasia. In Ukraine, for example, churches are being burned and attacked, but the reason has nothing to do with religion. Its roots are political. The Muslim world, however, is much different. The source of persecution there stems from opposition to anything outside adherence to Islam.

In a growing number of Arab nations, believers are being required to register with the government and declare themselves as Christians. Those who do will be assessed an extra, sometimes exorbitant, tax. The purpose is to penalize them for their faith, force them to convert to Islam, or leave their homeland.

This action is a classic example of history repeating itself. Centuries ago, when Islam took over the Arab world, Christians were required to register and pay a “minority” tax to live in the country. Today we see the same thing happening again. Registering allows the authorities to know who believers are, where they live, and what they are doing. The issue is not about paying extra taxes; it is about keeping track of believers and applying pressure on them.

New governments can also spark suffering for believers as leaders from other religions try to rid their countries of other faiths. Countries once home to many faiths have begun to impose restrictions on “foreign” religions.

Yet these are the very circumstances God seems to use to drive the church to prayer.  Prayer, in turn, strengthens and deepens believers’ faith and emboldens their witness. As a result, God builds His church, both spiritually and numerically.

The increased suffering of believers calls for a response from those of us who minister and support ministries around the world.  As a fellowship, we find ourselves grappling with some very tough issues. What are we willing to risk for the sake of the Great Commission?

The U.S. culture operates from a framework of safety. We do all we can to avoid risk. Yet in a growing number of countries, national believers have a different worldview.  They expect opposition for their faith. Are we willing to stand with them in the dangerous contexts? Or will we run for safety and leave them? If we leave, how will our relationship with them be affected?

People have asked me why AGWM sends personnel to countries that are extremely gospel resistant. I explain that we do not force people to go to particular places.  They go because God has called them, and they understand the risks involved.  AGWM leadership trains them in security measures and does everything possible to help them, but they are there because they have chosen to follow God’s leading.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33, NIV). We certainly see the truth of His words today. As we continue to emphasize the unreached of our world and the need for church planting — especially in areas where national believers are laying down their lives — we must be prepared to stand alongside suffering believers and be willing to suffer ourselves. We do so, confident in God’s faithfulness to fulfill the rest of John 16:33: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

OMAR BEILER is Eurasia regional director for AGWM.

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