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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy - Meet a modern witness of faith
Larry Sheehy
Larry Sheehy

Larry Sheehy-082811

Listen to Larry Sheehy read his Thinking of God column.

    In this edition of “Thinking of God,” I’d like to talk a little more about the violent persecution of Christians in the modern world, in many so-called “civilized” areas. Bible readers are familiar with the stories of early Christians in the first century A. D. who paid for their faith in Jesus as the Son of God, often with their lives. Persecution has never totally ceased since then, down to the present day. Our awareness of its existence will hopefully lead to an appreciation of the importance of preparation for it in our time.
    In the late 1960's, Moses Oparah, a Nigerian national, served as preacher for a small church.  In 1969, brother Opárah and members of his congregation were attacked during their worship by about 100 Islamic fanatics.  He and several others were severely beaten, and his 15-month-old daughter was killed by having her head bashed against a concrete floor.  They managed to escape to the protection of the Federal army, but their place of worship was destroyed.  They were put to this severe test of faith because they refused to deny their faith in Jesus.
    More recently, Christians in many other areas of the world have experienced violence because of their faith in Christ. Many have had to flee with their families from their homes to escape the hostility.
    What is our reaction to such stories about the persecution of public faith?  How does it affect our faith? Many Christians, perhaps most, will likely never know such persecution. 
    According to the apostle Paul, we should pray that we will be able to live lives free from persecution, in accordance with the will of God. 
    “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim.2:1-2)
    Of course, this doesn't mean we won't be tested. And it may be that the more subtle temptations we undergo in our culture are far more sinister. For example, the incentives in this society to deny faith in God and his son Jesus are becoming stronger and more insistent. We’re tempted to climb on the bandwagon of materialism; to sacrifice at the altar of peer pressure; to succumb to the fear of ridicule for our faith and its lifestyle, and to deny what we’ve been taught and believed to be true about important values in life.
    When the Islamic zealots entered the room where Moses Oparah and his brethren met, they shouted, "Is Mohammed known here?"  Immediately the reply came:  "No, Jesus Christ is known here!" 
    The same challenge from false ideologies is being hurled at the followers of Christ today.  Let Christians answer in faith, courage and love:  "Jesus Christ is known here!"

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