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PRIVILEGE AND PERSECUTION

On March 17, 2002, in Pakistan, a quiet protestant church gathered for Sunday services. Iím sure there is no such thing as a Ďnormalí service in a land where the congregation is under threat from the Muslims. But all the same, these people put aside their fears to come together and worship God. At some point in the service, two men came into the room and started hurling grenades into the crowd. Three of them detonated, killing five, leaving six or seven critically injured and wounding roughly 30 people. It was just a church service. Itís something you and I probably do without any thought. For them it was a declaration, and they paid a price for it.

Those of us who are blessed enough to live in privileged countries arenít often confronted with the fact that we have Brothers and Sisters that donít have it so good. All the same, they are so in love with their Lord that they will follow Him at any cost. There are the underground house churches in communist China; the Sudanese, who travel miles though hostile territories to get to a place of worship; and multitudes of others. We read stories about them, maybe shed a tear for them in their plight, but then we are back in our own reality of freedom and rights, a place where itís hard to imagine such cruelties.

There is a mighty strength in a people who are so determined. Imagine actually being there, in a place of danger and seeing the faces of a people who put such trust in their God. In my mind their eyes glow with a happy fire that is not ignorant, but confidant. Not scared, but at peace with whatever God deems worthy to give them. Christ is so real to them.

Then I see the faces of those who I worship with. I cannot see their hearts, but what I do see is something less than glowing. I once heard it said that there is no commitment where there is no price. I wonder how many of those in our churches would turn tail and run at the first sight of a Ďprice.í How shallow we have allowed ourselves to become. Making our churches places to see and be seen. A fashion runway for our new hairdo or shiny car. I wonder what would become of us if we were forced to choose between life and Christ.

I pray that God will always keep me in a place where I know that I would choose Him with out a hesitation. I pray for those bright lights in those grotesquely dark places where religious freedom is a dream, and I pray for those in my church. When I think about how much God can do through a life devoted to Him, Iím driven to pray all the harder.

If my people will humbly pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them. Freely then will I forgive, and I will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14). Hear me Lord. Turn the hearts of my people to seek your face, and heal my land. Let us be lights to rise up against the darkness in the world and lift each other out of the sludge we allow ourselves to fall into. Amen.
- Melissa Miles
April 2002

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