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Where the Church Really Does Suffer

When I thoughtfully consider the inevitability of persecution for Christian believers in the United States, I hang my head in humiliation for how easy we've had it over the last couple of centuries, for what the Church has done with the incredible opportunity we've been afforded, and for how quickly we cry out in anguish when we are threatened by the slightest impediment to our continued comfort. Perhaps I am confusing the Church with mere Americans here; it's certainly likely that the capital-C Church and the church as it appears in traditional Evangelical circles are not the same thing at all. In any case, the point I am attempting to make in my traditionally feeble way is that the Church in the world has been suffering persecution—real persecution—ever since it was founded over two thousand years ago. America was basically the exception to that rule; it was the place where believers fled to for freedom to worship apart from the persecution that existed everywhere else. Unfortunately (from a certain perspective, anyway), the tares were allowed to grow along with the wheat, and thus we have what we see in the American church today.

The very first post I made to this blog was called "Tribulation Comin'," and in it I attempted to warn that persecution was on its way to America, with the intent of calling believers to courage and steadfastness. My first commentor to this site ridiculed me for what he perceived was a typical (from his view) cowardly, loud over-reaction of American Christians to the slightest insult—the very thing I was trying to avoid.

Now, I don't know whether the tribulation we as Christians will eventually see in the US will rival what our brothers and sisters throughout the world have historically endured and continue to experience, and of which I was only theoretically aware. It's likely enough that I will not live long enough to find out. But in the meantime, my eyes have recently been opened to the reality and the poignancy of what believers in the rest of the world face moment-by-moment—something I had, to my shame, diverted my eyes from until now, probably because I really was just another comfortable, entitled American Christian, completely absorbed by my own habits and hobbies.

If that sounds anything like you, I encourage you to visit this website: I first became aware of Open Doors many years ago, when I read the fascinating book God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew, in which the author tells of the harrowing lives endured behind Communist lines, and his adventures putting Bibles into believers' hands. Then, as I got gradually vacuumed up by the demands of my everyday life, I forgot about the existence of Open Doors until just a couple of years ago, when I was a little surprised to find that the organization still survives and continues to serve the persecuted Church worldwide. I sent them a few dollars now and then as an appeasement to my guilty conscience, and after a few more months of lackluster attention from my part, I finally got around to reading a couple of the little newsletter/magazines that they kept sending me. Their publication is called Presence, and here's a page with a link to get a free e-copy: I was challenged by the stories of the people portrayed there, and it made me eager to find a way to help them. That's a change for me; I am usually pretty much completely self-centered, but this was calling me out of myself and into a place resembling the genuine love of Christ for His Church.

Take a look at the articles, and then decide if you can part with a few bucks to help out some believers in Jesus who really do suffer for their faith.

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