"for righteousness' sake"
I'm praying for someone today. And I hope it's not you.
That's a weird sentence, so let me explain... My Awesome Girl, as I think I have mentioned, is awesome. She is also sweet, gentle and tender-hearted. We took one of those spiritual gifts tests a few years ago, and she scored very high in mercy and compassion. And since I am both her mother and her teacher, I know very well how much she dislikes learning any history that includes violence. Makes it difficult to study wars in any great detail. I understand completely her sensitivity, and I don't want to immerse her in graphic detail that's unnecessary for her to know. But at the same time, she needs to know some of these things. Sometimes there needs to be details. For instance, it's one thing to know Jesus died for our sins. It's another to know that He was whipped, spit on, mocked, etc. It changes the picture, and sometimes I need to teach my kids the full picture.
The Literature Compilation for her grade includes selections out of the Bible, as well as excerpts of classic literature, and stories of famous people, such as the Mayo Brothers, John Glenn or Helen Keller. But today, the story I assigned to my Awesome Girl, was about the lives and deaths of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian. These five men were killed in 1956, attempting to evangelize the Waodani tribe in Ecuador. It's a heart-breaking account of their patience and perseverance in befriending these private, sheltered, and defensive people. The beauty of the story, though, is that it does not end with their deaths, which were shortly after they made contact with the Waodani. Their widows continued the work their husbands had started, and successfully introduced Christianity to the tribe that had killed their husbands.
As I assigned the reading to her, I prepared her for what she would be reading. I wanted it to not catch her off-guard, and I wanted her to know that the story is worth it. The compassion and love shown by the missionaries, and the love and forgiveness shown by their widows is educational and inspiring. I also wanted her to know that it's not just something of the past. There are still, today, places in the world where people are dying because of their faith, and we need to be in prayer for them. I gave her the example of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is in prison and has been sentenced to death for refusing to renounce Christianity.
Shortly after that, I sat down to watch some TV, and one of the first stories that came on the news was about the Christians in Egypt who are being persecuted for their faith. It was already difficult for them to be Christian in that environment, but it has gotten worse since the regime change in Egypt.
My heart is heavy today. In my mind, I know that persecution exists, but it's not something I think about very often. Perhaps, like my sweet girl, I just can't handle thinking about it. And perhaps, it's simply that I'm lucky enough to live in a free country. I'm not faced with the reality on a daily basis. But perhaps some of you are. I know that this humble blog is blessed to have international readers, and I know some of the countries represented do not welcome, or approve of, faith in Jesus.
So today I'm praying. I'm thanking Him for the reminder of the freedom I enjoy, to read and study the Bible, and to publicly attend the church of my choice. I'm praying for Him to protect those who love Him, and who serve Him around the world.
I'm praying for those who are persecuted for their faith. I don't know their names. But I hope it's not you.
~ "Blessed are those who are persecuted
for righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" ~