By Paul Slough and J.M. Phelps
Less than a year ago, reports of deaths, injuries, and missing persons from Chad began circulating online. Mostly fishermen from a village, 14 were killed, five injured, and 13 missing. What most secular news outlets failed to share was that the victims were followers of Christ. On December 17, 2019, nearly three dozen were martyred, maimed, or abducted for their faithful allegiance to Christ and His way of life, living out the suffering of believers outlined by Revelation 2:10.
Some may say this was an anomalous event of rival clans in Nigeria, but said persons would have to look past the lifeless and bloodied bodies of fellow Christian brothers and sisters. To say that these incidents are the outworking of tribal violence or ideological differences is to wholly miss the teachings, warnings, and passion of our King Jesus for his disciples, the world, and his Church. “They will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9, ESV).
In this moment in time, many are crying out, according to Revelation 6:10: “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Men, women, and children around the world are being persecuted to the point of death. The examples are plenty. But have we stopped to consider any of them?
Whether it was Stephen in the first century church, the outsider who is verbally or physically assaulted, or the unnamed many who currently cry out to Christ for justice, three questions emerge for the body of believers to answer, today:
- What are we, as Christ’s Body and Bride, actively or passively doing to stand in the gap for the abuse and violence committed against the Kingdom?
- Are we, like the church in Macedonia, seeking to fill the needs of the saints by caring for those who are left in the wake of persecution, mistreatment, and martyrdom?
- Can it be that we are content in fighting for a position of being affluent and comfortable in a world that will one day melt away like snow, while the Kingdom is shamed, tortured, or suffering horrific violence unto death?
These questions are not meant to be unfair, harsh, or draw attention to the authors, as they have to answer the same questions on a daily basis. Both have agreed they are woefully unqualified to posit anything outside of the sacred Text. But stories of persecution and a time of serious reflection on the questions above are simply meant to be a gentle reminder for each of us to do our part where Providence has us, and to trust Christ with our impact, effectiveness, and eternal realities.
Know that vengeance, justice, and ultimate judgment belong to our King for his Bride, his Body, and the world at large. We are hated for his namesake, but at the Cross and through his blood the hate we endure is transformed into forgiveness and healing. He has done the perfect work. Are we willing to fearlessly honor the work given us? “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV). [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Paul Slough is currently serving an unjust prison sentence along with three other men and their families. But what was meant for destruction, God is using for their good. He is a student of Scripture who desires to be back in his family’s arms, and to begin the next chapter of their lives. You can read their story and pray for their pardons at freeraven23.com.