“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:8-10).
Some people accept persecution in China, Asia and Muslim countries as a fact these days.
In this article I would like to draw your attention to the phenomena “persecution in the time of freedom”.
I would like to refer to Ukraine, a free Christian country that combines different religions, denominations and concepts. Surprisingly enough the “Embassy of God church” falls out of the list. This church was founded eighteen years ago and has a senior pastor from Nigeria, Africa. For such a long time of the church’s activity, many governmental officials and other Christian leaders have kept attacking it. The name of the church keeps being openly disgraced.
In this article I want to share my personal opinion from visiting the church.
I stayed in Kiev for a week and managed to attend several church services. I was impressed as I got to know pastor Sunday better. Actually, I accidentally met him, having entered the office building with my group from Atlanta, USA. The pastor talked to us and asked where we were from. Then he shaked my friends’ hands and talked to me. Surprisingly, the pastor remembered that he and I had met in Springfield earlier, when I was studying in the “History Makers” Bible School.
Our conversation was brief but enjoyable. Pastor Sunday remained open and simple, the way he was before the severe persecution of 2008 took place. Back then he was taken to court due to “King’s Capital” Company issues and placed in custody. He could have easily left the country before the court date, but chose to be faithful to his calling.
In fact, all persecutions are motivated. “Inactive” churches are not being persecuted, but only the progressive ones that aim to transform the society and propagate holiness.
“… Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted“. (2Tim. 3:12).
Looking back at history, we notice that sincere followers of Christ have always been persecuted, tortured and murdered by the hand of other less devoted Christians. Back in the day the martyrs were humiliated, yet today we respect them and call them Apostles of Faith and Reformers.
Nowadays we can often hear about homosexual priests, whom society quietly accepts, though God has already prepared eternal judgment for them.
The Sunday service I attended held a message “How to spread the Kingdom of God in the midst of persecution”. I have never heard similar preaching in an American church. The pastor referred to the stories of Jan Hus, Jean Calvin, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther which have been persecuted back in the day. Then he read from the book of Vladimir Franchuk the story about Ivan Voronayev and his friends, the founders of the penacostal movement in the former USSR. They were banished to the labor camps where some passed away and others got mutilated.
Many people in the church burst out crying on hearing the stories. The pastor went on to say that the today’s church has not even been through one third of the challenges experienced by the heroes of the stories.
In fact, people have always been and will be persecuted in the future. Christians should always follow Christ in the midst of troubles and obstacles. Every Christian may facep such a challenge, but what an honor it is to be suppressed for the sincere desire to change and influence people’s lives.
I heard a saying; “If Satan is not interested in you, you are useless to Jesus”.
Let each and every one of us reflect on our Christianity. Is it a good sign if we are not being pesecuted? Are we moving in the right direction? If persecution takes place in a free Christian country, can its absence in our lives mean our Christian inactivity?