“There was an incident in Florida in which a pastor burned a copy of a Quran a few years ago. When the news reached us we had to be sure to let our Muslim friends and neighbors know we did not support the actions of this pastor.” As I sat in that conference room listening to one of our partners share about life and ministry in the Middle East, I realized, maybe not for the first time, but certainly at a deeper level than ever before, that our actions here in the States can have a direct impact on our brothers and sisters in other areas of the world.
Learning that my actions and decisions can directly affect those around me is a lesson I learned early in life, but I never gave it much thought how far that influence reached. In America we are so proud of the freedoms we have, especially the freedom of speech and our ability to protest those positions or religions we disagree with. What we don’t think about is how those actions may directly impact the Church on the other side of the world. Brother Andrew has said, “This must become our strength: not what we are against, but Whom we are for!” As Paul addressed the church in Corinth and how to view their right to eat meat, he said, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
Despite what we may think, America is viewed by the rest of the world as a Christian nation and therefore our actions are seen as a reflection on the Church. You might be thinking what does this have to do with our ministry with the persecuted Church? What are we to do? One believer said it best, “Don’t ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!” (Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God).
One of the best ways we can stand with our brothers and sisters who are not willing to stay silent despite the persecution they face, is to follow their example and share Christ’s love and His gift of salvation with our neighbors.