|Church in the heart of Cairo, Egypt|
"Iraq was home to 1.5 million Christian
s just 10 years ago. Their number is now under 150,000. If the Islamic State (IS) and other terror groups continue their assault against believers, there may soon be no more Christians in Iraq.
Why is God allowing his people to face such persecution?
Tom and JoAnn Doyle are longtime missionaries to the Middle East, and my very dear friends. I pray every morning for their protection and ministry. Tom's book, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?, tells the incredible story of Muslims worldwide who are meeting Jesus in miraculous ways, including visions and dreams. As a result of such miracles, more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 15 years than in the previous 15 centuries.
His new book, Killing Christians, tells the other side of the story. Tom profiles eight Christians in the Middle East who are risking their lives to follow Jesus. I began reading it last weekend and couldn't stop until I was done. I urge you to share it with anyone who needs encouragement to follow Jesus courageously.
Here are some examples of what you'll find: A believer smuggles Bibles into Somalia by hiding beneath decaying corpses in coffins. A Christian in Syria, speaking to an underground church, says of their shared faith, "This will cost us our lives. We will die for this." He and his friends have already purchased a plot of ground in which to be buried when they are martyred.
In Baghdad, a Muslim comes to Christ through the kindness of an American soldier who shared his faith and gave him a Bible. A Christian in Saudi Arabia struggles to understand why her friend Mina was martyred while she was miraculously spared. She concludes: "Too often, even Christians forget that our faith is not primarily for this life. It is for the life to come. We who are still here are the ones who have been left behind. Our real life has not even begun, but for martyrs like Mina, it has."
A believer in Alexandria, Egypt who was spared by miraculous intervention knows that "Jesus left me here to lift Him up in Alexandria. It's as simple as that. I have no other purpose." He knows he will probably be martyred one day unless he bows to Islam, but testifies: "I will never bow down but to Jesus."
Why does God allow such persecution of his people? Tom notes that the threat of persecution for Western Christians is virtually nonexistent, but church growth in America has leveled off in recent decades while the Kingdom is growing in spectacular ways across the non-Western world. His conclusion: "Jesus' message of love and reconciliation thrives in a climate where hostility, danger, and martyrdom are present. Persecution and the spread of the gospel are as inseparable as identical twins. Suffering propels the growth of Jesus movements around the world."
Tom closes by asking us two questions: Are you willing to suffer for Jesus? Are you willing to die for Jesus? He notes: "For you as a believer—if you answer 'yes' to the two questions—this is a spiritual game changer. Everything will be different now."
How would you answer his questions today?"