American Christians should think twice before we ever use the word persecution when we describe our trials. Please hear me out…I know that many of the things we endure are difficult. Betrayal, slander, loneliness, hurt, illness, divorce, abandonment, and separation are painful. But persecution? I don’t know if the average American Christian really knows what that word means. Dictionary.net defines persecution as “the act or practice of persecuting; especially, the infliction of loss, pain, or death for adherence to a particular creed or mode of worship.”
I have been so moved by the story of Adbul Rahman. He is my brother in Christ in Afghanistan. Abdul has earned the right to use the word persecution. He has stood courageously in the face of threats, ridicule, and even the prospect of death. I am not worthy to lace his sandals. When Rahman had the oportunity to “compromise” to save his life he refused. Authorities offered him the defense of mental incompetance to avoid the punishment. He announced that he was completely sane.
If he had been sentenced, Rahman would have been the first person punished for leaving Islam since the Taliban was ousted by American-led forces in late 2001.
An Afghan Christian in the U.S. who has regular contact with Christians in his home country through his ministry, posted a video clip of Rahman on his website. Rahman says in the clip, according to Andaryas: “The punishment by hanging? I will accept it gladly, but I am not an infidel. I am not a traitor. I am a follower of Jesus.”
I am humbled. I am ashamed that I have been intimidated that someone might make fun of me if I make my faith known. Joni and I have a running gag that whenever I hear myself starting down Woe is Me Lane I stop and say this to her.
“Nobody suffers as much as I do, do they?”
“No,” she laughs. “Nobody.”
It is my way of self-depracating acknowledgement that my trials are small and my God is big. I just need to remember that. Today the trial is a little bigger as we sit at the hospital awaiting Joni’s surgery for breast cancer. And we know that the same God who gave Abdul the courage to look death in the eye and never flinch is the same God who comforts us in Room number 8. To paraphrase a promise from God’s Word…
“Greater is He who is in Joni and than the cancer that is in her body.”
We do not doubt that for one second. Thank you to my brother Abdul who has blessed and encouraged a member of his new family half a world away. Our God is an awesome God.
P.S. Surgery went perfectly. We will find out by Friday if the cancer is contained. Chemotherapy starts in 3 to 4 weeks. We are trusting, completely, in Him.