At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 2 Timothy 4:16
The Apostle Paul knew exactly what it was like to be alone, to be deserted by all who called themselves “brothers” and “sisters.” A former colleague who has done considerable travel among the persecuted says, “It is hard to believe that Christians are the largest persecuted group in the world today. But it is even more difficult to believe that this is so seldom mentioned in our gatherings and church services. More Christians know the names of their favorite actors than their fellow believers who are in prison.”
He continues, “With every trip something in my heart breaks as I hear the echoes of suffering:
- I remember the echoes of an Egyptian mother as she shared how her young boy was stuck in a haystack because she refused to deny Jesus.
- I remember the sounds of weeping as fellow students in Indonesia shared how Sariman, their co-student, was hacked to death.
- I remember the cries of anguish as we walked from church to church that was burned to the ground on the island of Lombok.
- I remember the tears of Rebecca in Iran as she showed the picture of her father who was stabbed to death for sharing the gospel.
- I remember the voice of Pastor Daniel in Vietnam as he shared how he was chained to the ground for six months.
- I remember the fear of Grace from Sudan as she shared how her church was attacked and her friend was shot through the head.
- Oh, I remember the cries of Caleb in Eritrea as he shared with tears how two dear friends were executed in front of him because of their faith.
- And I remember the tears of Joy in the southern Philippines as she shared how her fiancé was shot to death in their church in Mindanao.
- But, most all, I remember the deafening sounds of silence every time I return home.
RESPONSE: How can I be silent today? How can I not speak on behalf of those who suffer? How can I desert those that belong to the same body that I belong to and who desperately need the encouragement of my intervention on their behalf?
PRAYER: Lord, broaden my awareness of the needs of my suffering brothers and sisters. May I not be known for my silence.