This is from the blog Makarios which is written by Alan Leonard.
One of the challenges of denominational church life, or at least denominational church life in America, is that in all its structures and the formality of things, Christ can be missed. Not only by those who are members, but also by the onlooking world.However, there does exist those in the body of Christ who never fail to offer a vivid testimony of the Lord Jesus. In those brothers and sisters who are pursued and harassed and persecuted, and yet remain faithful to that which they have received, is perhaps the clearest display in this world of what being indwelt by God in Christ looks like.In those who love their persecutors with genuineness, in those who endure the loss of all material comforts with joy, in those who speak the gospel to those who hate them withcourage, in those who are faithful to follow Jesus thru all things without turning back. . . you can see Christ.
Pastor Ibrahim Balami leads a Brethren church & school in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Since 1999 in Nigeria, over 600 churches have been destroyed & tens of thousands have been killed. In Maiduguri district alone, 56 churches have been burnt down and over 50 have been killed, including women and children, by organized mobs.Pastor Balami’s church & school had previously been torched and then rebuilt. He received a letter warning that the school would be burnt down again if the students and staff did not leave.When the mob came, they broke down the gates with axes, threw bags of gasoline against the buildings, and beat down the believers with heavy objects and machetes.When Pastor Balami was asked, “When the mob was threatening you, and you were terrified, did you feel the presence of Christ?,” he testified:
“I did, because at that time my whole spirit, I was carried into another realm of spirituality, that I became so oblivious to the environment, I was not even feeling the environment, I was not even feeling the pain, I was not even feeling the noise anymore, I was just feeling a sense of glory in me and power, and I understand what Steven when he said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing. Because at that point you are no longer yourself but Christ has taken over the pain, Christ has taken over all my beliefs, Christ has taken all over, I am being carried on his shoulder at that moment so I have never felt anything…”
“Christ gives the power to bear persecution, so my experience at that moment when they were throwing heavy objects, beating, cutting, I was feeling in me, a new life, a new spiritual life, because Christ has taken over and at that moment I can remember clearly, I can recall, why Steven in the Bible, in the book of Acts is saying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they have done” even when Jesus prayed, because at the moment of persecution, when you are right there at the center, in the middle of it, God takes over, and it is no longer yourself, He gives the strength, He gives the words, He gives the wisdom, He gives everything that you need to pass thru that persecution and that is why I think I am still surviving today because my God is great.” (Quoted verbatim from video on Persecution TV.com)
Don’t let the hardness and the difficulty of their circumstances keep you from seeing possibly the clearest display of Christ in the world today. The promise of God is that regardless of our circumstances in this world, that in Christ alone we can be fully satisfied in a very real and present way. Let their lives fuel your prayers and encourage you in your walk. Embrace your brothers and sisters living in the dark and hard places in this world. And if it is in your heart to honor them, the best way is to be like them and wholly follow Jesus Christ.
(Bart now) I just had to post this. Hope you enjoyed it. I will comment with my thoughts tomorrow.