Defiant Acts of Faith Amidst Christian Persecution
Esther was only able to shine in the Bible after the Persian king Haman planned to slay all of the Israelites in his realm. Likewise, Moses was able to lead his people out of bondage only because they were already contained by Pharaoh’s harsh rule. Christians in repressed communities are today living like these past luminaries.
Theoretically, Christians should enjoy all of the rights that any other group get in a nominally secular country. However, sectarian violence on the part of Hindu and Islamic nationalists in India has made it difficult for many Christians to practice their faith in that nation in spite of the fact that it technically promises freedom to each individual to practice their religion as they see fit. Other examples of Christian persecution today include the suffering experienced by those who live in countries like Iran and other Sharia law countries that rob individuals of the right to convert from one faith to another.
To some extent, this has even been experienced by Christians who continue to openly preach the teachings of Jesus Christ in predominantly Buddhist countries like Myanmar, which has seen a fair amount of violence in recent years. Though many people might not think of that part of the world as being unsafe for followers of Christ, it’s become increasingly hostile. In spite of this, local Christians have continued to refuse to give up their religion and, in some cases, have actually elected to make the ultimate sacrifice rather than have to endorse something they don’t believe in. Something similar is going on in areas of the world that are known to be unstable.
As the site of the birthplace of Jesus Christ, Israel and Palestine is one of the holiest sites in the eyes of many Christians. At the same time, however, it’s an unstable and potentially dangerous place. Nevertheless, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Latin parishes still make up the Diocese of Jerusalem. They stand as the latest representatives of a long line of parishes serving in apostolic succession that stretch back all the way to the time of Constantine himself.
Relatively few people in this part of the world who are not already part of the international Christian family have wanted to openly bring up their faith. Nevertheless, these parishes continue to attract members who attend their services and perform missionary work in spite of any of the dangers that they could be incurring both for themselves and for their families.
Hard numbers are hard to find due in no small part to the fact that these communities are often censored in the media. Nevertheless, it does appear that they’re winning souls on a regular basis and helping to bring peace to areas that are in desperate need of stability. In many instances, these Christians feel that they’re actually doing the same kind of penance that would have been experienced by members of the earliest church communities.
No matter where one might live, they’re always going to have challenges. They might struggle with addiction or have some other kind of pet sin that they constantly feel the need to entertain. Christians who find themselves living in restrictive communities have increasingly sought to do everything they can to practice self-denial and focus directly on living within the boundaries provided by the Universal Laws of God as opposed to what they themselves might want.
Pastors who live in these communities often compare the phenomenon to what regularly occurred at various points in the Old Testament. Sinful followers of God’s flock would find themselves under domination by a foreign power. Over time, they would turn against everything that they had been addicted to and instead turn back to God’s teachings. In turn, God would eventually have mercy on them and put an end to their suffering.
Faithful parishioners in the developed world are always called to help their brothers and sisters in Christ who find themselves in less fortunate circumstances. They might also consider them a great inspiration if they’re dealing with a difficult situation in their own life.