by Mark Renfroe, Area Director for the Arabian Gulf, Middle East, and North Africa, Assemblies of God World Missions
From time to time, my work brings me into contact with stories of Christian in the Arab world who face persecution for sharing their faith. This week, I heard the story again, but this time it hit closer to home. It’s my personal friends now. The couple had been encouraged to file a complaint after receiving serious threats. Unfortunately, the judge turned the tables, focusing on my friends’ evangelism efforts, rather than the complaint and threats.
Even as their story is being written, we need to respond in ways that are not rash or reactive, but thoughtful and God-glorifying.
So, how should we respond?
- Do not get angry! Sometimes our first response is to become upset at the injustice of the situation. This is natural. However, as Kingdom people, we are called to supernatural living. Remember that the weapons of our warfare are not human–they are spiritual weapons for dismantling strongholds. (Ephesians 6:12)
- Be discreet in sharing the situation’s details. We naturally want to find a quick solution. In most cases, seeking attention and appealing to governments, media, and well-connected people complicate matters without solving anything. (Luke 12:11-12)
- Pray like those facing persecution are people you know personally. For me, praying like those facing persecution were my own children drastically changes the way I pray – when, what words, how often. Jesus prayed differently for his disciples (those close to him) than he prayed for all believers. (John 17)
- Ask God to demonstrate His glory. Our hearts go out to this family. However, our highest goal is not my friends’ release, or even their safety. Our highest goal (and I know theirs, too) is God’s glory. He often accomplishes that in ways that make no sense to us. (Ephesians 3:10)
- Rejoice with these friends! They are now in very good company (Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas, etc.). The Bible promises no safety from suffering and persecution; in fact, it guarantees challenges for followers of Jesus. These friends have been counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. (Acts 5:41)
- Ask God to use this situation to stir up questions in the hearts of the local people, and to take note that these people had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)