Persecution and Victimhood
By Hal Lindsey
Just before Christmas, a woman in Birmingham, England was arrested near an abortion clinic. She did not block access to the clinic, and it wouldn’t have mattered if she did because it was not even open for business at the time. She did not disturb the peace in any way. In fact, when police asked if she was protesting, she answered, “No.”
Then they asked if she was praying. She answered, “I might be silently praying.” And that was enough. Off she went with the officers — under arrest for “maybe” saying a silent prayer. Several cities in the United Kingdom have adopted “protest prohibition statutes.” The statutes make prayer a “form of protest,” and they forbid protest in the vicinity of abortion clinics — even if it comes in the form of silent prayer.
Was it a fluke? No, it happened again in another English city. An army veteran now serving as a physiotherapist was stopped by officials. They asked if he was praying and he said that he was. The officer asked, “Can I ask what is the nature of your prayer today?” The man said he was praying for a deceased son. Twenty years ago, he had paid for the baby to be aborted, and he was still racked with guilt. Prayer for a deceased child does not help the child, but the prohibition of any silent prayer violates the most basic of human rights. It is an attempt to police both faith and thought.
This was not North Korea, China, Hitler’s Germany, nor Stalin’s Soviet Union. This was “Christian” England.
Only a few days ago in Nigeria, gunman stormed a church, shot the pastor, and kidnapped more than two dozen people. In Malta, a man was arrested for saying that God rescued him from a homosexual lifestyle. They said telling his true story amounted to “conversion practices.”
Following the US military debacle in Afghanistan, that country has overtaken North Korea as the most dangerous place in the world for Christians. But growing persecution is a worldwide phenomenon. Attacks on Christians have recently taken a dramatic rise in India and other Asian nations. The Catholic relief organization, “Aid to the Church in Need,” says that rising persecution comes in part because of increased jihadist activity in Africa and increased religious nationalism in Asia. According to “Open Doors,” more than 124,000 Christians were forced from their homes just last year because of their faith.
Should the followers of Christ see themselves as victims? No!
Paul and Silas were beaten with rods — their backs laid open — then thrown into the middle of a filthy Roman prison. Their bodies had to be tormented with pain. They were being punished merely for doing good. In some cases, a lawsuit or staging a protest might be in order. But they did neither. They did not even bemoan their pain. What did they do? Their backs bleeding, their feet in stocks, deep in the innermost part of the prison, they sang the hymns of faith. They did not see themselves as victims, but as men privileged to know the Lord Jesus Christ, to serve Him, and to suffer for His name’s sake.
Reread the story of Stephen and his brutal execution. He clearly did not see himself as a victim, but as a victor. Think about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. God delivered them from a fiery death, but before being thrown into the furnace they gave this testimony. “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18, NASB)
Remember Jesus on the cross and the prayer for His tormentors. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NASB)
How could all these people react so well? Here’s how. Each of them along with many others throughout scripture, saw this life in the light of eternity. We win! And because of that we can continue to manifest love even to those who harm us.