As the holy week in our Christian calendar, I am very aware that this is often one of the times of the year when violent persecution intensifies all over the world. Easter Sunday 2016 – 75 killed in Pakistan; Palm Sunday 2017- 40 killed in Egypt; Easter Sunday 2019 – 259 killed in Sri Lanka; Palm Sunday 2021 – 19 injured in Indonesia.
Of course, I want the persecution to stop, I want the abuse of power over the vulnerable to be addressed – whether it is planned acts of terror as the incidents above, legal restrictions that infringe on freedom of religion and belief or even communities and family members that discriminate or despise those who identify with Jesus, actively follow Him, or tell others about Him.
Counter-intuitively though, these are opportunities to bear witness to the Good News. (Luke 21:10-13). Persecution and the spread of the Good News about God’s intentional action and sacrifice to restore relationship with all of us who cannot be with Him in his Kingdom through our own endeavours, but only by entrusting ourselves to His Lordship, frequently go hand in hand.
And so, we can choose to strengthen those that are enduring hardship because of their faithfulness in order that the joy and power of the Gospel might be present in their communities. I am also challenged in my own journey and focus on life. Am I generous with the Good News – inviting others in to know Him? Am I so caught up in self-preservation that I avoid discomfort at all costs?
I pray that we will see the Gospel spread mightily around the world through our persecuted family’s steadfastness and in our own spheres of influence.
Have a blessed Easter.