Is Plain Nastiness Persecution? Ask Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
Today I feel like a wimp. Some unbelievers God placed in my life for my sanctification were particularly nasty to me this week. They went out of their way to make my day miserable, my kids’ lives a little harder, and my wife upset. They know I’m a Christian, and they have said this bugs them. So as I was praying, I thanked God for the chance to suffer (slightly) for his name. Then I realized that if this is the extent of my persecution, I must be doing something wrong.
In a world where more Christians than any time in history are being fired, threatened, imprisoned, and even executed for their faith in Christ, people like me don’t get to call our inconveniences “persecution.”
This is just my opinion, and I’d love to hear yours in the comment space below.
But I wanted to publicly commit to never call petty nastiness “persecution.” It degrades what is happening to our brothers and sisters in the real world.
Before visiting the persecuted church I had an excuse. Inevitable ignorance. Now I have met pastors who have been in jail for their faith in Egypt. I have met pastor’s wives in Russia who wear black in perpetual mourning and silent protest that their husbands were sent to Siberian prison camps for preaching God’s word. I once did a funeral for a lady who was burned to death by radical Muslims for babysitting the children of a couple who converted to Christianity. I sat with that fleeing couple whose parents had gone on TV vowing to kill them.
How quickly we forget. As soon as some pressure shifts onto us, our attention strays from others, back to home base. It’s sad. I’m ashamed, and my hope is that public accountability will spur me on to remember people like Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in prayer.
Perhaps you have not been aware of his situation. God has blessed our church with a man who is very vocal, experienced, and passionate about the persecuted church. Mike Burnard, of InContext Ministries has an excellent website that will tell you all about Nadarhkani’s plight. The nutshell is this: the Iranian government is holding him in prison, awaiting execution for teaching the gospel, and have offered him release on one condition–if he renounces Jesus Christ and accepts Mohammed as his savior.
Youcef has a wife and kids who will lose their husband and dad because he will never recant. He has asked for prayer, not to be released, but to remain faithful.
I resolve to use any inconveniences that come my way, as reminders that I need to pray for Christians who are feeling the flames of real persecution.
Will you pray for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani?