What Answered Prayer Looks Like for Persecuted Christians
So often we pray and wonder what it will look like when God answers our prayers. Well here is a wonderful story of God answering our prayers for Christians in this African nation:
I walked in and stood in utter amazement barely believing my eyes and ears. I had just entered a church that was having an enthusiastic all night worship service – the 400+ strong crowd was singing and clapping loudly in joyous praises to God and all this was further amplified by loud speakers, drums, guitars – the works!
I initially kept expecting a crowd of enraged locals to descend upon us in violent disruption, but nothing happened. After a while, I too relaxed into the joyous celebration and praised God for His evident work on this island.
As the night wore on, we prayed, listened to the word and enjoyed songs and dances presented by youth groups and various choirs from other congregations on the island. The worship celebration continued through the night into the early morning.
It was Good Friday Night 2012 and indeed what a good Friday!
I was privileged to witness what I had not imagined I would ever see; Christian brethren this free to worship Christ on this specific Island. Even more significant was the fact that this was an interdenominational all night of worship bringing together all churches on the island!
The brethren had earlier in the day recounted how just a few years ago, they had to carry their Bibles well hidden as even just the sight of one would cause uproar and even physical confrontations from the local Muslims.
Of necessity, their prayers were then done in secret, in quietness and constant fear of attacks from the local people.
Christian music was anathema and no musical worship took place. The few churches that dared meet in the open were subject to constant harassment, their members rejected, isolated and verbally abused whenever spotted in the alleyways of the historical town.
Believed to be the site of some of the earliest Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa, the island was a centre of Arab poetry, arts and crafts. Its position along one of the main historical Arabian trading routes resulted in a population that is largely Muslim.
It currently boasts with one of the holiest Muslim pilgrimage sites, the grave of a Muslim scholar claimed to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohamed. It is the site of an annual pilgrimage that attracts Muslim faithful from all over the world to take part in ceremonies honouring their Prophet’s birthday.
Deeply Islamic, the island strongly resisted Christian influence over the years.
But these brave and strong Christian missionaries persisted in prayer and faithful service. During those difficult years, they endured sustained persecution, outright rejection, witch-craft attacks and deep loneliness until at last the Lord prevailed.
A Pastor based in the area narrated how God had graciously intervened after years of fervent prayers.
“The change was gradual. God worked quietly, gently and slowly. One by one pastors started understanding that we had to unite and be one in Christ. We realized that our power and strength lay in our unity and not in squabbling and mistrust.”
“We started talking about the need to unite. And those that were of the same spirit started praying for God’s help to unify the church leadership. It was not easy! At the beginning, the infighting seemed to get worse as we prayed. But, slowly, God turned hearts around and we eventually formed a pastor’s fellowship. That was a breakthrough indeed!”
He continued, “Together we started holding unified prayers for the Island, and we are now seeing the answers to those prayers. After about 10 years, we now not only worship freely, we even have Christian Radio station broadcasting all over the island, 24/7!”
He explained that the station is appreciated even by the Muslim a priest or religious leader, can be Christian or Muslim leader. “This is because we not only broadcast Gospel teachings but also have lessons on healthy relationships and how to build strong families. The local leaders tell us that the society benefits from these lessons.”
“We are aware that it is only because of God’s help that we earned trust and gained favour with the locals.”
“We have also seen the numbers of churches increase dramatically in the last ten years as indigenous congregations have sprung up and other ministries have also been emboldened to send missionaries here.”
“Because of its sensitivity, I cannot tell you much about Muslim converts, but just know that God is bringing in His harvest from among these people and we praise Him!” concluded the pastor.
It was a Good Friday indeed!