Persecution has always been the enemy of freedom and as military women and wives we are charged with defending against it. Stephanie’s Monday Minute challenges us with three practical ways to rise up from the evils of persecution.
Persecution and the American Military
by Stephanie Ward
As the grandchild of a Korean war survivor, I will always be thankful for the role America has played in the nation of Korea.
My Korean Grandma was a refugee from North Korea and found shelter and sanctuary south of the 38th parallel, under the protection of the American military in a refugee camp. She had to escape the horrors of North Korea and flee to give her children a chance, a hope, and a future. The communists that occupied the Northern region of Korea were brutally torturing and killing people for their faith and heritage. The Americans helped fight for that mission for the people of Korea, and continue to carry it out today.
If it wasn’t for American troops being willing to fight in the Korean war, my Korean grandma would have had no safe haven, no refuge, no sanctuary rooted in the hope that the American military brought. If it weren’t for my grandma’s resilient spirit and the bravery of those men and women, my grandma would not be alive today, nor would any of my other family members.
People often say that history is cyclical.
In our current political climate and all that is happening in the Middle East, it is easy to see the important role America and it’s military has played in the world. People in Afghanistan see that America represents freedom of religion and sanctuary and that is why over 100,000 refugees have fled the perils that await them under the rule of terrorists.
Many Americans, and others around the world, can see ourselves and our family members in the faces of the Afghani people. The mothers begging soldiers to take their children. The dad begging for passage on an airplane for his family. The refugees are us. A refugee is someone displaced from their place of origin, their home. And as Christians we identify with that because this place is not our home. God did not design us to stay on this earth forever. We feel that tension with the pain, the hurt, the loss, the challenges living in this world brings.
Sometimes, as mere mortals, it is so hard for us to see the big picture when we see the mess of the world. In fact, it is hard for us to even fathom a bigger picture in the mess, but we aren’t God. We can take solace in the fact that God is sovereign. And while we may not know, He is never unaware.
We won’t know the full impact that our troops have had in Afghanistan until later and we won’t know the impact we have when we stand up for our faith on earth until eternity.
Our proclamations may bring persecution.
We have all been challenged in some way for our faith. But right now we hear stories from Afghanistan of terrorists persecuting and murdering our brothers and sisters in Christ for their faith. There will come a time for all of us when we have to rise up and proclaim our faith in front of people who will not like what we stand for. It might even cost us something, it might even cost our lives.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
How quickly do we forget that people have, are, and will continue to suffer and die in the name of Jesus? Or that the Bible is a living and breathing book banned in many countries? We forget communist nations so tightly control the internet that, while vile and pornographic images are legal and easily visible, having a Christian blog, Bible app, or church sermon pulled up in your search history could get you thrown in jail in certain countries.
How easy for us in America, the land of the free, to turn a blind eye or forget the horrors true persecution brings.
We sit in our comfortable churches complaining that the seat does not have enough padding, the music didn’t quite move us into the experience we were hoping for, and the air conditioning wasn’t working. Sometimes we join serve teams at church just so we can get the free T-shirt and we forget that there is a much greater purpose to the sacred act of the gathering of believers. We forget that there was a time when people could not gather and worship freely. Some countries still deny that freedom. We forget that there were people who fought and died for our religious freedoms, while we worry about comfort. Great movements of God have come out of periods of great persecution.
As Paul Washer once said, “Persecution has never hurt the church, only prosperity.”
When we look at Afghanistan and see all of the tragedy, we must remember we only see a piece of the puzzle and believe that God is birthing a revival in the midst of Christians in Afghanistan, our world, and in our military. The American Military fights against persecution of any kind. And, if you are a spouse of a military member, you are part of that mission and an important part of that first line of defense.
Reflect Why does this earth not feel like our home? Am I truly willing to give up my comfort for the cause of Christ? Do I trust that God is truly in charge, even though I do not see the big picture in the midst of pain?
Know God can use each of us exactly where we are. Brainstorm ways God can use you today in your home, your community, and in the world?
Train Study 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” What does it mean to you?
Lord, God you are so good and sovereign. Your ways are not our ways, Lord, and sometimes it is scary and hard to see. Help me Lord to trust you when I see pain and please give me the courage to rise up when you need me to act. Help me to lean on you in my weakness and only draw from your strength. Please be with those who are fighting for freedom and comfort those who are facing persecution in your name. Thank you for your perfect power and strength. Amen.