Most people wouldn’t think to look to Congress for spiritual insight, but recently one member of the U.S. House served to remind us of the price many Christians pay for their faith in Jesus Christ.
On July 30, Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., spoke from the House floor to pay tribute to Christian martyr Watchman Nee of China. Rep. Smith noted that Nee is known around the world for his Christian witness and his books are still banned in China today. He was imprisoned for his faith in 1952 and died 20 years later in a labor camp.
In his speech, Rep. Smith stated, “… it is estimated that China has more than 100 million Christians, and millions of them consider themselves spiritual heirs of Watchman Nee. Millions more are rightly proud of the contribution Watchman Nee made to global Christianity – he was the first Chinese Christian to exercise an influence on Western Christians – and indeed of his contribution to world spiritual culture. It is sad that the works of Watchman Nee are officially banned in China – even as they are being discovered afresh by a new generation of Western Christians. It is my hope that Watchman Nee’s collected works can be freely published and distributed within China.”
Untold numbers of Christians face similar fates today. Tragically, American Christians are typically unaware of the violence our international brothers and sisters face for following Jesus Christ.
Voice of China Network has produced a video documenting the story of Jiang Zongxiu, a 34-year-old woman who was arrested in June 2004 for handing out gospel tracts at a local market. While in police custody she was beaten to death.
In North Korea, a 33-year-old mother of three was publicly executed after distributing Bibles in the communist nation. Following her execution this month, the AP reported that Ri Hyon Ok’s parents, husband and children were sent to a prison camp.
In Mauritania, Christian aid worker Christopher Leggett was murdered in June for allegedly spreading the Christian message, Christian Freedom International reports. The husband and father of four had worked in the nation for more than six years.
On July 26, a young Nigerian girl watched as militants raided a small church service and hacked the pastor and his brother to death with machetes. The girl and another woman were then taken to a compound with many other Christian women and girls and told to renounce their faith or face ongoing imprisonment. Stuart Windsor, national director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: “Local Christians have expressed disappointment that some Western media have disregarded the targeted nature of attacks on their community, and the brutal murders of Christian pastors.”
In Matthew 10:16 (NKJV), Jesus said: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Jesus knew that His followers would face persecution and hatred through the centuries. But He offers us wonderful encouragement: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (verse 26).
These Christians who are suffering are dear to our Lord, and they should be dear to us. I like to periodically remind fellow believers that these Christians need our fervent, constant prayers. Their faith has cost them so much. Our hearts should be broken for them and we should be appealing to our great God to comfort and minister to them as only He can.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Jesus stated, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Please join with me in praying that the grace of Christ will become known in unspeakable and mighty ways to the untold numbers of believers who are suffering for the cause of Christ around the globe.