Addressing fear with faith

By March 13, 2015
(Photo courtesy International Mission Board)

(Photo courtesy International Mission Board)

Niger (IMB) — [Editor’s Note: This is an International Mission Board Web article concerning persecuted Christians in Niger.]

Persecuted Christians in the West African country of Niger are “very upbeat” despite recent attacks in their country.

“We’ve only lost things,” they told IMB strategy leader, Greg Dorsey.* “We’ve not lost the church, just some buildings.”

Dorsey expressed gratitude that recent violence at the hands of angry Muslims was targeted at buildings, not people.

“There is a sense that this is the time for the church, that…what was meant for evil, God intends for good,” he continued. Instead of seeking retaliation or revenge, even believers who lost their homes and possessions are confident that “God is good and Jesus is still Lord.”

“They’re standing firm,” Dorsey said, and fellow strategy leader Brian Foshee* echoed the sentiment.

“They see…this is how we can demonstrate what it means to follow Christ and what we do if we’re going to follow up what we believe with our actions.

“It was also encouraging to see that at least one public statement has been made by a representative of the evangelical churches in Niamey, where they publicly stated on radio and television that they forgave those who did all the damage and the burnings. That was pretty powerful.”

Dorsey shared the story of a university student who lost everything–all of his books and clothes. He said, “Hey, I forgive you. It’s okay; it was just stuff I lost…and I forgive you.”

The attacks appeared to be well-planned and coordinated, as small mobs ransacked and burned more than 50 structures all over Niamey in less than four hours. Both missionaries and national believers found marks on their gates, indicating their homes were potential targets.

But stories abound of members of the Muslim community who warned their Christian friends and neighbors of impending danger, protected their homes while they were in hiding, and offered them shelter–all indications there was limited support for the group perpetuating the violence. Dorsey said some Christians feel their Muslim neighbors were ashamed of what was done in the name of Islam.

“It would be worth noting [that] while they targeted the church very, very clearly, they also were targeting others as well,” Dorsey said. “They targeted, I believe, some Christian businesses along the way. But they also targeted the ‘evils’ for Islam, such as bars and nightclubs and brothels. Some hotels with bars sustained heavy damage.”

Believers appear to be working through the fear and vulnerability they felt during the attacks, “addressing their fear with faith and moving forward,” Dorsey said.

Experiencing persecution and realizing this could be the trend for the future has brought home the biblical truth that persecution will come to those who follow Christ, Foshee added.

According to the strategy leaders, no IMB personnel talked about leaving, even though they realize “radical Islam is out there …, so it’s entirely possible [the protesters] could try attacking, try causing damage again,” Foshee said.

“It became an opportunity for them to reflect on their fear in comparison with their faith and how they were going to respond. Right now I think we’ll move forward with greater courage …, leaning more towards faith and a lot less towards fear,” Dorsey said.

When asked how he would like to see the church in the U.S respond to the persecution in Niger, Foshee said, “I hope it would increase awareness…of what life is like in Niger, in Muslim West Africa, where the Christian population is less than .01% of the total population, and how much Christ needs to be made known in a place like this.”

Dorsey added, “Use it as a reminder when [you] pass a church building to remember that there are churches all around the world that are facing persecution.”

Even the church in the U.S. is coming under attack in ways it never has before, yet not to a level where the persecution is violent, he said.

In other areas of the world where the church is a fledgling church, they are seeing persecution, “so pray for the people in those churches, that they would remain firm in their faith,” Dorsey said.

He also asked that Christians in the U.S. “seek ways of offering encouragement to Christians around the world who are facing persecution.”

*Name changed

2 Comments

  • I have seriously begun to wonder if those who claim to be followers of “the Lord Jesus Christ” here in ‘Amerika’ – and the other ‘civilized countries’ – who will not even bother to pray for or actively help our Persecuted CHRISTian brethren in 110+ other countries
    – will “the only wise God” cause them to NOT know, think about, pray for, or help us in any way – if/when we are Persecuted for our Faith in “the Lord Jesus Christ”?

    How many that are really CHRISTians here in ‘Amerika’ even know about Asia Bibi who has been imprisoned on ‘death row’ in Pakistan since Nov 2010?
    Of those that do remember her
    – how many think about what she and her family have been going through for 4 years, 4 months – so far?
    – have we ever actually prayed unto “the LORD JEHOVAH” to help, provide for, and keep her through her very real and present persecution
    – have we ever thought about, prayed for, or attempted to help her husband and three daughters – for theirs is a very real trial!

    It is time for those few – “the remnant” – that are truly “converted”, “born again” believers and followers of “the Lord Jesus Christ” – ‘Biblical CHRISTians’ here in ‘Amerika’ and other ‘civilized’ countries’ to actually live out our faith in “our Lord and Saviour” – whether or not we ourselves are ever persecuted:
    “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
    and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for ALL SAINTS;” (Eph 6:18 [KJB])

    “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
    The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16 [KJB])

    “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
    and I pray God your whole SPIRIT and SOUL and BODY be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    (1 Thess 5:23 [KJB])
    .

  • Additional comment
    – How many that call themselves Christians here in ‘Amerika’ and the other ‘western civilized’ countries even know, think about, or even really care that people in 110+ foreign countries are being Persecuted for their faith in The LORD Jesus Christ?
    My personal experience is that there are very-very few! In the church that I was a member of for over 10 years, and where I now attend services – I am the only one that consistently requests prayers for our Persecuted CHRISTian Brethren!
    TRAGICALLY it has also been my personal experience that the all too common attitude amongst those who call themselves ‘Christians’ here in ‘Amerika’ is
    – Who cares about someone in some other country (that they often don’t even know or care where it is)
    – after all, they are not one of ‘us four and no more’
    – they are not a member of ‘our’ congregation
    – they don’t even belong to ‘our’ denomination
    – they do not speak English
    – and they are just a bunch of heathens anyway who probably aren’t really CHRISTians
    Harsh words – ABSOLUTELY YES – but go and read about what “the Lord GOD” Himself tells us the world will be like in these ‘end-of-the-end days’ in which we are living – RIGHT NOW – TODAY:
    2 Thess 2:1-9 – the “falling away” from ‘the true faith’
    2 Tim 3:1-9 – about “perilous times” spiritually
    and in Luke 17:26-29 about what it will be like in “the days of Noe” and “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot”.
    (I personally recommend reading in the KJV, for the words are clear and plainly spoken.)

    How close is the Persecution of CHRISTians to those of us here in “Amerika” –
    – 1) If you live in Key West, FL persecution is occurring TODAY – 90 miles away in Cuba,
    – 2) If you live in TX, NM, AZ or CA – CHRISTians are being persecuted in a number of the states in Mexico,
    – 3) In Canada you can go to jail for repeating what GOD tells us in His Holy Word – that being a sodomite is a sin: (In the KJV the word “sodomite” is specifically used in: Deut 23:17; I Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46; II Kings 23:7 – and described in Romans 1:24-32)
    – and the laws are even more stringent in nearly all of the western European countries!
    – 4) How many have seriously thought about the ‘hate crime’ laws already enacted here in “Amerika” – that means the near certainly that real and terrible persecution of CHRISTians is going to occur at anytime?
    Please take time to listen to Bro. Paul Washer’s comments [3:47] @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BtVP37SWqs

    I have heard in the past that the ‘house churches’ in China have prayed that the true Church of “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” here in ‘Amerika’ would come under persecution – so that we would come to a very real Biblical understanding of what true CHRISTianity really is!
    We should take absolutely seriously what “the Lord Jesus Christ” personally has told those of us in the church of Laodicea:
    “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
    To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
    (Rev 3:19-22 [KJB])
    .

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