Spiritual Food – Window on the World

God Bless And Re-revive America Part III

"IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON WATER, YOU FIRST HAVE TO
STEP OUT OF THE BOAT"
(A challenge to the North American/European Christians)

Jesus said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but
cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to
destroy both soul and body in hell."
St. Matthew 10: 28


The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Persecution (literally, a pursuing,) is the systematic attempt to suppress or exterminate Christianity by social pressure to the point of violence.

Persecution of Christians began with the action of the Sanhedrin against Peter and John in reprisal for their proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 4: 1-5). Another persecution took place at the time of the stoning of Stephen when the Christians of the holy city Jerusalem were driven out of the city and scattered in every direction (Act 8: 1:4) and St. Paul was also standing near by which he admitted in the Holy Bible later, "And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him." Acts 22:20.

Organized persecution by the state did not begin until the time of Nero, and was then probably only temporary and local. There were traditionally ten persecutions under the different Roman Empires from Nero, A.D., 64 to Diocletian, A.D. 303. Diocletian attempted not only to exterminate the Christians, but also to destroy their literature. He confiscated and burned all copies of the Scriptures that he found, and demolished the Church buildings. To be a Christian was a crime, which could launch persecution at any unexpected moment. The ultimate aim of Roman kings was to destroy the Christian faith completely. But their efforts were frustrated by the zeal of the Christians and by their surprising readiness to suffer and die for their Christian faith. World history witnessed that Christians multiply whenever they were mown down (cut down) by their persecutors.

Official persecution ended when Constantine in A.D. 313 by the Edict of Milan declared a policy of toleration for all religions, with a view toward enlisting the public support of Christians for his regime. Ultimately Christianity became the official religion of the Roman state.

The causes of persecution were numerous. The pagans, who considered themselves atheists, anti-social, and politically subversive, misunderstood the Christians. The decline of the Roman Empire in the third century was attributed to the failure of the people to worship the old gods, and the Christians were consequently blamed. Because worship of the gods was part of the state activity, the Christians, who would not participate in it, were deemed unpatriotic, and consequently a dangerous element in the population. Persecution was the protest of heathenism against the Gospel in its spiritual and social manifestations.

History repeats itself and now in 21st century millions of Christians are being persecuted ruthlessly in sixty countries for their faith, including those in Asia. In India Christians are religious minority community of 2.8% out of its 100 million population in India. But are credited with honor for imparting unmatchable education and health services to the Indian masses and has played a vital role in nation building since its independence in 1947.

One can well imagine the selfless services of the Indian Christians specially our Christian mothers, sisters and daughters that despite of 2.8% out of 100 million population of India, 70% women in nursing/medical profession are from our Indian Christian community serving humanity in India. Is it not a compassion and love for Christ to serve the humanity. But the unspeakable crime which I cannot put on my lips committed with our same Christian mothers, sisters and our daughters by the fundamental anti-Christian forces in the last four years to curb the rise of Christianity in India and want to crush it by undemocratic means. The murder of Australian missionary Graham Stains and his two minor innocent sons in January, 1999 in the jungles of Orissa, India was to shut down his missionary mission to serve the lepers, which he was doing for the last 35 years. As the people of that area started to follow his Christian faith seeing his compassion and love for Christ to serve the humanity.

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On June 23, 2000 United States Ambassador to India, Richard Celeste, speaking in New Delhi, expressed his serious concern over the attacks on members of the Christian community, saying that it was sending confusing signals about India's commitment to secularism and tolerance and he said he hoped that the Indian Government would take appropriate action against those fundamentalist groups who were responsible for the attacks.

On the same day June 23, 2000 Indian National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi has also asked the Home Ministry and all states/union territories to send reports to it within two weeks on what measures taken by them to prevent attacks on Christians and their institutions. In its commendable remarks the commission further said it was necessary to preserve the "Secular Credentials of the nation" and fulfill the promise of fraternity and common brotherhood envisaged in the Indian Constitution.

Twentieth century has been the century of Martyrdom. More Christians have been killed for their faith in 20th century than have been martyred in the total history of Christianity in 19 centuries after the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. They have been persecuted and martyred before an unknowing, indifferent World and most unfortunately the Western Christian community is silent.

In the last six months, more than 25 evangelical pastors have been killed and up to 300 Churches destroyed in Colombia. In Sri Lanka, Churches are burned and Pastors fear for their lives. In Indonesia and Sudan persecution on Christians have passed all limits where they have been sold in to slavery because they were Christians.

At least 145,000 believers, by the end of this year of 2001, will have died as martyrs for the sake of Lord Jesus Christ. According to Paul Marshal noted scholar and human rights monitor roughly 200 million Christians face persecution today such as physical abuse, family separation, and martyrdom. Many more face discrimination and restriction for the sake of their Christian faith.

On November 4, 2001, some 100,000 U.S. Churches joined with the thousands of Churches in 130 countries to observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in the world, and we at Voice of Christians Evangelical Church, Ludhiana, India were privileged to join hands with them all in prayers on this day and challenge our North American and European Evangelical Christian brothers and sisters that "If you want to walk on water, you first have to step out of the boat." This follows the example of St. Peter who walked on the water after stepping out of the boat. A boat depicts in our lives a comfort zones from where average western Christians do not want to step out or are stranded there and therefore hesitate to walk on the risky water of faith which does depict the trials, tribulations and persecution when one decides to follow Christ in his/her life and which is mandatory Biblically if one wants to be called Jesus's follower.

September 11 - Black Tuesday's tragedy has brought persecution on the doorsteps of mighty America, once upon a time highly evangelized Christian nation on the earth. Now it is up to our North American/European brothers and sisters how earlier they totally surrender to their Lord immediately and prepare themselves mentally and spiritually to cope with this persecution prayerfully by stepping out of their boats (comfort zones) and try to learn how to walk on the risky water of faith (trial, tribulation and persecution) boldly as we their third world country Christian brothers and sisters are continually praying for their re-revival in Christ after September 11 tragedy.

If we want to stop persecution on Christians the world over, we must earnestly pray for the revival of mainline Churches in North America and Europe those have either damaged their credibility by their deadening traditionalism, formalism and theological disputes or abandoned their Biblical vision for evangelism and mission in favor of free-thinking, liberalism, pluralism and most deadening weapon of liberal secularism which has eroded the Christian heritage to its utmost low level in Europe and to great extent in North America and reduced Christianity into minority religion.

Historically Europe is a Christian continent of 515 million people. Out of which only 2.8% are evangelical Christians. Would you say it a Christian continent today? Of course not! Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has urged the country's traditional Churches and especially young Christians recently on Monday, October 22, 2001 to change his "ailing " nation with a Spiritual revival speaking at the National Protestant Days on the eve of the 45th revolution, which was crushed by Soviet troops. The state-run Hungarian radio quoted Orban as saying that as in other European countries "The Church" bell summons us to funerals more often than to Christenings. Speaking to his mainly Protestant audience that Christians should shoulder the responsibility for the work and legacy of Hungary's King St. Stephen, who founded Hungary as a Christian state about one thousand years ago and "All historical Churches represent values without which the future of! the Hungarians would be difficult to imagine." I am fully agreed with this statement of Prime Minister Victor Orban as communities those forget their history and heritage cannot survive in future. You will find more registered witches and fortune-tellers than Pastors in Germany. This is the present picture of Christianity in Europe.

The present day ruthless persecution of Christians the world over is the direct result of the same as the perpetrators of Christians world over very well know the declining demography of Christianity in the West and thus Christians are being tortured and killed in large scale on international scenario without any protest, hue and cry from Christian nations of the west at all as what protests America is facing now while fighting war against terror in Afghanistan. Thus the spiritual revival at this juncture of the North America/Europe is utmost important to match its spiritual swords with the anti-Christian forces of the world and there is growing need to shatter the silence like Queen Esther to save Christians world over from further genocide.

May God Bless and re-revive North America and Europe.

By Rev Isaac Newton Johnson Click here

The above article published on November 15, 2001 issue of Masihi Sansar (Christian World) newspaper. Freddi Joseph, Chief Editor “Masihi Sansar” (Christian World) Newspaper, Lamba Pind, Jalandar, India.


 
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