Archive for the ‘Matthew 10’ category

Imprisoned, Hacked, and Ripped to Death

August 12, 2009

This Sunday, I am preaching my third message on Matthew 10:16-25, a very difficult passage dealing with persecution, suffering, hatred, and death–all because of living on mission and becoming like Christ.  As I am reminded of the relative absence of such realities here in America, reports like this are vivid testimonies of what our brothers and sisters face daily around the world.  This report comes from Christian Solidarity Worldwide and is dated August 5, 2009:

A thirteen-year-old Nigerian Christian has told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) sources how she was forced to watch her pastor’s murder, and has also spoken of her four-day ordeal as a prisoner in the besieged compound of Islamist group, Boko Haram.

On 26 July, Mary was in church with her pastor, his brother and an older Christian woman when a group of fifty militants broke in. She and her pastor hid as the group killed the pastor’s brother and dragged the older woman out of the room. On discovering their hiding place, the militants cut off her pastor’s hand to stop him holding on to her, then hacked him to death with machetes before setting him on fire.

The girl and the woman were dragged to Boko Haram’s compound in Maiduguri’s Railway district, and were placed in a room with around 100 other Christian women and girls. They were all asked to renounce their faith or face continued imprisonment, while Christian men were given the choice of renouncing their faith or dying.

Mary vividly describes how she was forced to wash the blood stained clothing of Boko Haram fighters. She was in the camp for four days, but managed to escape with a few others when military forces intensified their attack on the compound.

Mary’s pastor was one of three Christian ministers targeted and killed by Boko Haram during last week’s violence. Photographs showing the corpse of one murdered pastor from the Church of Christ in Nigeria, Rev Sabo Yakubu, indicate that his heart may have been ripped out.

Stuart Windsor, CSW’s National Director said: “CSW is deeply saddened by the appalling nature of the crimes committed by this sect against innocent civilians. Local Christians have also expressed disappointment that some western media have disregarded the targeted nature of attacks on their community, and the brutal murders of Christian pastors. Unless this aspect of the violence is recognised by all and dealt with effectively, people in Northern Nigeria will continue to suffer because of their religious beliefs”.

As world Christians, let us pray for our Nigerian brothers and sisters under such intense suffering for the sake of Christ. They may rip the hearts of men of whom the world is not worthy, but God has given them hearts that beat only for the glory of Christ–a rhythm that will continue for eternity.

On Silence and Sinful Prudence

July 28, 2009

The easiest way to avoid persecution and suffering is to be silent for Christ and then come up with justifications to make such silence feel legitimate.

Jesus tells those who are entrusted with His mission in Matt. 10:17-20 two things they can count on: (1) they will be delivered up by men operating as “wolves” and (2) it will be given to them what they should say as those led by the Spirit of God.

Informed Christians might consider the call to “beware of such men” is to avoid them altogether. Don’t live among them or seek to reach them.  We think to ourselves, “After all, what does sheep have in common with wolves?  Aren’t they after us?  Just play it safe.”  This is the opposite of mission and living sent.  It is staying where you are because the comfort and safety you enjoy is of far greater value to you than the glory of Jesus Christ spread by means of suffering for His name.  At this point, one begins to look for the best alternative to mission, as though Jesus makes such a provision in his instructions.  J.C. Ryle, in his Expository Thoughts on Matthew, powerfully addresses this “so-called prudence” in the avoidance of mission:

“The extreme into which most men are liable to fall in the present day is that of silence, cowardice, and letting others alone.  Our so-called prudence is apt to degenerate into a compromising line of conduct, or downright unfaithfulness.  We are only too ready to suppose that it is of no use trying to do good to certain people: we excuse ourselves from efforts to benefit their souls by saying it would be indiscreet, or inexpedient, or would give needless offence, or would even do positive harm.  Let us all watch and be on our guard against this spirit; laziness and the devil are often the true explanation of it.  To give way to it is pleasant to flesh and blood, no doubt, and saves much trouble: but those who give way to it often throw away great opportunities of usefulness (100).”

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