Boon or Bane?

To hear about the persecuted church is one thing. To have a face associated with the persecuted church is another.

Last Tuesday, our cell group had the privilege of meeting Pastor Dan (name changed for security reasons) from Vietnam. He is one of the graduates of the Global Proclamation Academy. We learned firsthand how he experienced persecution because of his faith from the communist government. Though Vietnam puts a facade of religious freedom to entice investors, believers there are still being harassed. Their children are also kicked out of the public school. The authorities disturb their worship meetings. A pastor-friend recently visited Vietnam with a team to conduct trainings for pastors and church workers there. The authorities got wind of the conference. The police “invited” one of the trainers to the station and interrogated him for some hours.

Then, I recently got e-mail from another graduate of the GPA, Pastor Romy of Sri Lanka (again, name changed for security reasons). Last Sunday, a mob instigated by a local Buddhist priest attacked a church, hurting four people and damaging the church building. The police tried to intervene by arresting the priest. Then, people demonstrated in front of the police station, demanding that they release the priest. The incident happened about a kilometer away from where Pastor Romy’s church meets. But, someone just threatened the church, that if they would not stop their worship services, the same thing would happen to them. They need our prayers.

Admittedly, there are times we find it hard to identify with what’s happening to these persecuted believers because we enjoy religious freedom here in our country. According to Pastor Dan, freedom is a blessing. But, the convenience and comfort of worship can lull us to lethargy. It can end up a curse when we fail to make the most of the opportunity God gave us to multiply Biblical, committed and loving followers of Jesus Christ. It is either a boon or a bane for us. We need not wait for persecution to break out in here before we take our faith seriously.

Brethren, let us enjoy our freedom responsibly.

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