Tonight I received a message from a member of my congregation to inform me of an attack by three Muslims on a young man who has been visiting our church and is interested in becoming a Christian. These three Muslims punched and slapped our young friend because he was wearing a crucifix. They threatened to kill him. The police are involved and there may even be some form of investigation.
This happened in the UK. Not a Third World country. Not a Sharia controlled zone. Not somewhere ruled by religious zealots.
This happened because of the mere sight of a crucifix. The young man who was attacked is not even a Christian – although we are praying for him and actively working to see him become a follower of Christ.
I will be very interested to watch the police response to this sort of attack. Will it be written up in any newspapers? Probably not. Should the offenders be prosecuted? Certainly.
How do we respond to persecution? We should pray.
But pray for what?
Here is what the Apostle Peter wrote:
“For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
So should we pray for God to protect us from something which is actually commendable before God?
There is a tremendous quote from a Christian scholar and leader named Tertullian:
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
So here is my prayer:
“Lord, help us to stand firm in the face of persecution. Give us the strength to consistently testify to the world about Your truth, Your love, Your grace, Your judgement and Your Gospel. Make Your church into a body so focussed on mission that persecution becomes something to be embraced and not avoided. Help us, right now, to support this young man as he finds his way to You. Draw Him into Your Kingdom. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”