After his conversion, one Lebanese Muslim lost all of his teaching and professional privileges and eventually was murdered. Other professionals, who had grown accustomed to some degree of esteem, are set back by the disdain they experience as a result of choosing to follow Christ. “Traumatizing” was how an observer described one Arab North African’s experience of being arrested, interrogated and held by police for two days.
For those who have been subject to persecution on the basis of their ethnicity, the persecution for their new-found faith comes as less of a surprise and actually serves to confirm their decision to leave their former faith. The North African who found Christians to be the only non-racist people he knew was intimately acquainted with severe persecution. His brother and several close friends have been murdered!
A West African man had his house burned and he was chased by people who were attempting to kill him and his family.
A fisherman from the Philippines expressed an increase in persecution, with people stealing his boat, cutting his nets and tormenting his children. Yet, an observer notes, “he is not shaken.”
Steadfast in the face of adversary
This steadfastness in the face of persecution illustrates, at least in part, the role that persecution has played. If it does not actually spur numerical growth, it certainly seems to spur the growth of the soul, creating, so to speak, bigger Christians as a result of difficult, even horrendous treatment by the majority Muslim community. In the face of persecution, the comfort of scripture has provided profound help in time of need. One Javanese brother found courage to face persecution in Matthew 5:11: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” The teaching of Christ reoriented his perspective and he began instead to consider it a blessing. He noted that it was the exposition of Matthew 5:11 at a church service that was instrumental in his coming to Christ.
An Egyptian believer received similar comfort from scripture when he was being spit on and suffering death threats. The taunters told his younger brother he was an infidel. Yet, when he read the Gospels, he felt the love of God, sensing the presence of Jesus. A contrast to the Qur’an, he found the Gospels powerful and satisfying.
God is at work through persecution
In this relatively brief look at what God is doing in a very large cross-section of humanity, we see His heart being conveyed in dramatic ways. Christ’s hand is extended to Muslims in a way no less sincere than His hand has been extended to you. We don’t appreciate being known for our worst manifestations. Muslims, too, ought to be given the benefit of the doubt. Many are seeking to follow God as best they understand Him. Sincerity may not be the measuring rod for truth, but sincerity of heart is a critical foundation for a life of saving faith in Christ.
Dreams and visions may have been used by God in part because there is a dearth of flesh-and-blood witnesses for Christ willing to articulate and demonstrate the power of the Gospel in person. If nothing else, the preceding testimonies of these witnesses for Christ show that God is at work. Apparently, when Muslims do have an opportunity to see the love of Christ revealed in all its fullness, they are finding a life with Christ quite compelling. After all, grace does have an irresistible quality to it.
Source: BUND EVANGELIKALER GEMEINDEN IN OESTERREICH (BEG+OE)
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches in Austria / Missions Department