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FACING The Tribulation

4. When Love Meets Hate

  • Pastor Tesfatsion Hagos is one of over 1800 Christian prisoners of faith in the tiny African nation of Eritrea. He has been incarcerated in the notorious Karchele prison in Asmaran for almost two years, where it is said you can hear the screams of prisoners from midnight until dawn...

  • Zhao Yan is 23 years old and a member of the South China Church. She was arrested for having a Bible study with two American seminary students at Zaoyang City, Hubei province on August 2, 2005. After her release she described how she had been interrogated by a police officer:

‘After a few words he slapped me in the face and kicked me to the ground. He ordered me to kneel on the ground and cuffed my two thumbs. He then let me raise my arms and keep them level. He again slapped me across the ears. He also hit me with a leather belt on my mouth. He took the drinking glass on the table and smashed it on my arm... He then kicked my cuffed hands. I rolled around on the floor; the cuffs were eating into my flesh.

‘The head of the Security Bureau, Zhang Xujin, also entered the room. He scolded me and severely kicked my left leg. He also severely kicked my two hands around on the muddy floor. Afterwards he wanted me to raise my hands up. He grabbed the cuffs and dragged me forward and up. My fingers simply wanted to break. I was continually tortured like this.’

...It is estimated there are some 4,000 Christians imprisoned for their faith in China today – many of whom experience abuse and torture at the hands of the authorities...

1                Sung Sao Pao is one of hundreds of ethnic Vietnamese believers who have been imprisoned because of their desire to follow Christ. Having endured 11 years in a Communist prison cell, he was forced to work in inhumane conditions while deprived of food and water. He was kicked, beaten and almost died.

Like many prisoners of faith, during his time in prison Sung Sao Pao led several of his fellow inmates to faith in Christ. In prison he was not allowed to have a Bible. He remembered verses that he had studied and committed to memory in the past.

...how had he maintained his faith in such difficult circumstances? The answer that came from this lovely, humble and unassuming brother was simply profound. ‘Jesus was with me every day,’ he replied... (Release International letter, 30th May 2006.)

Each day, thousands of believers in Jesus, like the above, are tortured for His name. They silently suffer, accepting reproach for the name of Christ. So must we all.

Remember, each of us must:

  • Be prepared to die.

  • Be prepared to suffer.

  • Be prepared for hardship.

  • Be prepared to love.

  • Be prepared to hear the Spirit.

4. Be Prepared To Love

Persecution is going to escalate worldwide against Christians. Churches are going to fall. Many thousands will die in the troubles. There is only one place of safety, and His name is Jesus, the Rock.

How can you endure?


For love is as strong as death (Song 8:6).

Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it... (Song 8:7).

Jesus called you by His love to lay down your life for Him as He lay down His life for you.

For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you (Jn 13:15).

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you (Jn 15:18).

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you... (15:20.)

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (Jn 15:12,13).

In an Asian country, a group of Islamic gunmen burst into a Christian home, pointing their guns at Shahid (not his real name), his wife and children. The gunmen said they had come to kill all of them.

Shahid, a pastor, spontaneously said something most unexpected. He welcomed them all in love and, with unfeigned words of affection and enthusiasm, insisted they all have a meal with them first to celebrate this event.

The gunmen looked at each other, confused, not knowing what to do. Then they just left, without saying more. The fear that the gunmen had wanted to instil in their victims rebounded onto them.

The Holy Spirit had taken command of the situation. Shahid and his family loved Jesus, and lived and walked in His love. That love was greater than the enemy’s hate. They could not stand against it. It blew them away!

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him (Jn 14:23).

God’s love is greater than all.

Do Not Fear

Jesus promised that if we trust Him, we do not need to fear for our time of trial and crisis:

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist (Luke 21:15).

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (Jn 14:27).

People say, “That’s easier said than done.” But Jesus doesn’t ask us to do something that is impossible. He commands, “Let not your heart be troubled.” “Let” invites your choice. You can either choose to fear, or choose not to fear. If you choose to put your faith in Jesus, His faith in you will override the worst fears, neutralising them.

But we all have to grow into that level of faith. It doesn’t come by mere mental acceptance of Jesus. How it comes is explained in Faith: Raising Our Level Of Expectation.

When Jesus commissioned the disciples, He said:

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons... (Matt 10:8).

But He also warned that such wonders would not be without accompanying traumas of opposition:

You will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved (Matt 10:22). ...If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! (Matt 10:25).

Therefore do not fear them... (Matt 10:26).

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:27,28).

To overcome fears that are wrong – such as fear of man, which is a snare (Prov 29:25) – you must do. “Do what?” you may ask. Doing is a necessary part of Christian living. Believing is demonstrated by the doing (Jas 2:14-26).

So, to answer the question, you must do all that God requires of you, and more. Pray, study His Word, keep His commandments, love His people, tithe to support His Work, do the works of God, accept and utilise spiritual gifts, perform wonders by His Spirit, etc. I’m sure you know what He requires of us. It’s in His Word. And then, when you have done all those things, don’t consider yourself to have done anything more than what was your reasonable duty.

His Spirit accompanies doers, but departs from those who accept Him for selfish reasons.

As you ‘do the doing’, with the empowerment of His Spirit, you can then confront the areas of fear in your life. To overcome, you cannot just wave a magic wand over the fear by declaring it must depart in Jesus’ name (that can help you if your fears are deep- seated demonic bondages), but you must confront the thing you fear to do. As you do, God will help you.

In Pakistan, in March 2006, noise outside Naseem Bibi’s house, got her attention. When this ordinary housewife went to her front door, she saw people protesting about the Danish cartoon of the Muslim ‘prophet’ Mohammed. They were also mocking the Christian cross. When she remonstrated with the mob, she was arrested and charged with blasphemy.

Some might say she didn’t use enough wisdom; she could have left them alone. Maybe. But we cannot ‘judge’ another for their decisions. Perhaps she was moved by the Spirit to do that, even though she and her family now pay a continual price, having to live in hiding far from her home.

Jesus did say in the same context of not fearing:

Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven (Matt 10:32,33).

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (10:29-31).

Naseem testified:

“I love Jesus Christ too much. I often saw Him in my dreams.”

The Power In Forgiveness

“...since 1999 there have been several outbreaks of sectarian violence in central and northern Nigeria that have left over 50,000 people dead, many of them Christians.

“Families have lost their breadwinners; homes, churches and businesses have been burned down; yet the forgiveness shown by Christians to their persecutors has had an unexpected effect; astounded Muslims themselves becoming Christians. This is Hamma’s story:

“ ‘I was a Muslim, but the cause of my conversion is that during the September crisis I observed one thing with both these religions: Christians could be able to help their brothers, even if they are Muslims. That shows an extent of love to me; but the Muslims killed even their own blood brothers that are Christians! So now it is the love in this light that makes a turnaround in my life.’

“One woman lost three sons, a niece and a nephew when her house was burned down, but says of their murderers, ‘I have forgiven them already. It was very difficult, but Jesus did it for me. Jesus came for those who are bad, to restore them to God. Even though they are bad, Jesus loves them. They should repent, and God will forgive them.’

“Her husband escaped. Others did not...” (R I letter of 28th Sept 2007.)

Muslims who become Christians face death. That is what Islam decrees for ‘apostates’ and ‘infidels’. So, Hamma’s conversion, and many others who convert from Islam, also face severe opposition.

Our disasters are God’s opportunities.

God used the tragedy of persecution and death to reach into the hearts of the wayward and draw them to Him.

Martyrdom Is Opportunity To Witness

These testimonies illustrate a cross-section of the opposition around the world against Jesus:

  • “Rukmini is 68 year-old Christian lady living in Bangalore, South India, where she witnesses courageously for Jesus in her neighbourhood.

“One day more than 90 people came to protest at her evangelistic activities. Ten forced their way into her small home, tied her hands together, and forcibly applied red powder to her forehead – a sign of re- conversion to Hinduism.

‘This is a Hindu nation’, she was told. ‘We don’t want you holding Christian meetings in your house.’ She was told not to believe or read the Bible.

“Rukmini told me this kind of incident has occurred spasmodically over 15 years. ‘I am fearful’, she says, ‘but I just live to serve Jesus.’

  • “Pastor Daniel and his wife Hephzibah started a Christian church in the Hyderabad area by distributing tracts. He was opposed and beaten several times, and then on May 29 2005 disappeared. He was found murdered a few days later.

“When Hephzibah went to identify Daniel’s body, she could only recognise him by the clothes he’d been warning when she last saw him alive. Acid had been poured over him.

“She faced a lot of pressure from her landlord to vacate the premises, and stop the prayer meeting they were running. The landlord was also under pressure from the militant Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to throw her out.

“Now she wants to continue with the church they started. It currently meets in two places, numbering 30 and 40 people respectively. Says Hephzibah, ‘The future is blank, but God has called me and He will show me how He will accomplish His plans through me.’

‘I strongly believe that nothing happens out[side] of God’s will and purpose. I don’t question why God took my husband. God has a bigger purpose for that incident. I have to accept that.’...”
(RI’s Witness magazine, Issue 32, pp 2-3.)

Myanmar (Burma) has a ruthlessly repressive military government. Christians are fiercely persecuted, and the only religion that is tolerated is Buddhism.

  • “Paul – who chose his pseudonym with care – hated Christians. For years he trained as a Buddhist monk, until idealism gave way to violence.

“But all that changed when he was taken to church and heard the gospel. He was out cold drunk through most of the service, but he left sobered up by the preacher’s words: ‘If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, you will go to hell.’

“Within five days Paul had become a Christian and was zealously leading others to the Lord. His reputation as a preacher grew, until the military arrested him for preaching in Chin State.

“They took him to a torture room and demanded to know why he’d converted from Buddhism. They spent the next 14 hours interrogating him – changing shift every two hours to avoid tiring out the torturers.

“But eventually it was those torturers who broke under pressure. Paul had been taking every opportunity to give them the gospel, so they finally gave into him. He could preach to his heart’s content – but under certain conditions.

‘They handcuffed me and hoisted me above the ground by my handcuffs until my feet no longer touched the ground, and there I preached the gospel that I loved so much, for three hours. After I finished, they let me down and my body was covered with blood, especially from my wrists. I passed out.’

“They threw Paul into a cell with 35 other prisoners. There he led all but three to the Lord.

“Paul was proving more troublesome in jail than out of it. So the authorities offered to release him if he signed a paper saying he would no longer preach about Christ. He chose the freedom of a prison cell.

“He was eventually charged with using his Christian faith to oppose his country. He spent 11 years in jail.

‘I had no regrets, but praised God, read the Bible and talked with God in prison. I had no disappointment at all.’ ” (Witness, Issue 36, pp 3-4.)

Another pastor in Burma declared:

“We sometimes ask God to give us persecution, to send us difficulties – so the church may grow and have a prayer life and be stronger and stronger” (Ibid.)

How amazing!

We read in Acts about the first Christian martyr, Stephen, who preached the gospel by the Spirit, and gave a devastating indictment of the religious leaders:

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers! (Acts 7:51, 52.)

For that ‘scurrilous’ criticism, those proud, stubborn, hard-hearted religious leaders killed him.

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’

Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin...’ (Acts 7:59.60).

Continued in part 5...

Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK