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Victorious under Pressure: Life and Ministry in a Hostile Country

Updated: May 24, 2022

Imagine walking along a road with human body parts scattered all around. There’s blood all over the place. You see people on the pavement mourning their loved ones, some running about screaming to look for their children, only to find them torn in pieces.

You hear the police siren and suddenly, someone grabs you by your arm and shouts, ‘let’s get out of here before they seal the place or another bomb explodes’, and you follow him out.

This is what my brother witnessed when a bomb exploded during a Sunday church service. He was sick for days after what he saw.

While I can’t imagine the pain of losing my loved ones in an attack like this, I have been close enough to losing one, and such experiences can be absolutely devastating when they arise at the least expected moment. They can be even more devastating when you are not prepared for it at all.

Born and bred in a country hostile to my faith, and living through various forms of persecution, from subtle to the harshest, here are some lessons that I’ve learned about how believers can face persecution head on.

1. Be Strategic

Although we ought to take risks to spread the Gospel, we must never bring persecution on us needlessly. Persecution and suffering may come as a result of the preaching of the Gospel, but managing risk with wisdom is also part of living in hostile places.

I remember my father serving in a difficult country for some years. I was only ten years old when my family moved there. Several times during our stay, we had to evacuate our house and find a safe haven until things became safe again and we could return home. If we hadn’t fled to find a safe place then, chances are you wouldn’t be reading my article today.

The point is, we will have to take some risks in ministry, but be strategic and wise about it. Don’t simply let your life slip away because it never makes sense for an army to lose its soldiers in vain. Think about Daniel in the lion’s den. He was thrown in it, and God protected him.

We do not embrace persecution – or go looking for it - but we face it with courage when there are no other options.

We do not embrace persecution – or go looking for it - but we face it with courage when there are no other options.

2. Know our true identity in Christ

The Lord has taught me my identity in Christ over the years. As children, we believe ‘we are the prince or princess of God’. It is true, but problematic because almost always young minds tend to get a little too fanciful with the idea, like imagining pink pearly gowns, hair adorned with fresh flowers, and occasionally riding the clouds above.

I had encountered reality early on in life, and this whimsical phase ended fairly soon for me. Though, the transition wasn’t very smooth. From a dreamy little princess, I turned into a grumbling teenager, and it took me a few more years to embrace the notion of suffering in a believer’s life.

Thus, when faced with persecution, we sometimes have to leave our homes, put on our armour, and gird our lions to stand firm in Christ. We are children of God, and we ought to have the strength of a warrior too. Let’s never forget that.

3. Rejoice in trying times

Rejoicing in adversity is easier said than done. However, no matter how overwhelming the feelings may be of resentment, anger, or despair t

hat follow such dreadful experiences, let always the Spirit of God take hold of you, not your emotions. The Bible reveals testimonies of God’s people gracefully enduring persecution. Their hearts never ceased to feel the joy and share the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, even amidst life-threatening situations.

Take the example of Paul and Silas singing hymns in prison after the Roman authorities had flogged them (Acts 16:25). They were not only rejoicing during their time in prison, but were also considerate of the people around them. They showed God’s love to the jailer when he was to commit suicide (Acts 16:25-18), to which he responded,” Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

The manner in which Paul and Silas endured persecution opened a way for them to preach the Gospel to the jailer and his household. How beautifully these two men of God turned their story of persecution into a story of transformation!

4. Consider it a reaffirmation

Lastly, if you are being persecuted, know that it’s because you have the desire to lead a godly life in Christ. It reaffirms your faith. Just as Jesus promised, it also shows that you are not of this world and so shall the world hate you. You are set apart by God to be His vessel.

Hence, don’t allow bitterness, anger, fear or

any negativity, that persecution may inflict, to overwhelm you. Instead, take heart and be reminded that we walk in the footsteps of our Master who also suffered.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:19-20

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