Christians around the world are being silenced. Their voice, their actions and their faith pose a massive threat to the status quo, and so the decision to follow Jesus for many can be a truly revolutionary, radical and dangerous choice.
It’s a choice which creates vibrations. It’s a choice that demands to be heard. It’s a choice full of passion, commitment, determination and perseverance. It’s a choice that makes a massive noise.
But many will not tolerate the noise generated by followers of Jesus. Since the earliest days of the church, when the Holy Spirit helped the first followers of Jesus preach, teach and heal, there has been opposition (see Acts 2-7). When Christians turn up the volume, when God is on the move, there is often resistance. That resistance is making itself felt on the church today. As Christians turn up the volume, many are increasingly being silenced. Here’s how.
The best way to silence those making a noise is to simply put them somewhere that no-one can hear them. In 2016 at least 193 Christians were arrested or imprisoned in Iran. Pastor Behnam Irani has spent six years in prison for ‘activities against national security’, which is another way of saying that he was running a church and sharing his faith. But, even in the forced silence of his cell, Behnam’s faith still resonated loud and clear:
Many of my cell-mates ask me… why I don’t just deny my belief and go back to my wife and children? I then ask myself: what cost did that the Lord pay to save me? The death of Jesus Christ on cross… Yes this is a huge price… I have decided to keep my faith in our Lord and stay in prison.
IRAQ/NIGERIA: FORCED OUT
Over the last few years, Christians in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria have been targeted by Islamic extremist groups. The so-called Islamic State (IS) have forced thousands of Christians and other minority groups from towns, villages and cities in Syria and Iraq, whilst in Nigeria, Boko Haram have attacked Christian villages in an attempt to create a caliphate where a strict interpretation of Islam will silence any other faith.
In Iraq, IS are now retreating, but they have left devastation in their wake. Thabet is a church leader from Karamles, a village in Iraq. He explains that of the 797 houses in Karamles, 97 are now piles of rubble, 446 were completely burnt out and others are badly damaged. But Thabet is refusing to give up. He won’t be silenced.
“It is our mission to live here in this place as Christians, the place of the root of Christianity. Without faith I do not have a reason to stay here. But I have faith, so I am here.”
In India, violence is increasingly being used against Christians, especially those like 21 year-old Jitendra, that convert from Hinduism. He became a Christian after being healed from an illness at a Christian event. His family followed suit, but because they stopped giving offerings to Hindu idols or giving money for Hindu festivals, they were targeted. After a series of worsening events, three men attacked Jitendra and his father outside their home. They were beaten with sticks and dragged through the mud. Jitendra was hospitalised. His leg was broken. The family now live in a new home, away from their village, but are refusing to give up on Jesus. They won’t be silenced.
“Remembering that Jesus has suffered too is a sufficient answer. I know that God will never leave, nor forsake me.”
Amplify their silence
Inspired and challenged by these stories? Join the Blackout, a sponsored digital fast run by Open Doors, and give up your online voice for a few days to stand with, and make a massive noise for, the voiceless. Raise money, prayer and awareness by giving up all your internet-connected tech for 48 hours. Tell these stories, encourage people to give, and collect signatures for the ‘One million Voices of Hope’ petition that will ask the UN to ensure the security, dignity and future of Christians across the Middle East.
Go quiet online to amplify their silence. Join in the Blackout between 10-12 November.
This post is part of our series encouraging us to stand alongside our persecuted brothers and sisters, curated by Open Doors UK.