Muslim extremists murdered Ayub’s grandmother on one of the many islands of Indonesia. We stayed in the home of this warmhearted Christian leader. He serves as an elder for the church meeting in a home nearby. We loved this brother and his wife immediately and shared some really happy moments together in Christ.
But, Ayub’s life was a troubled one at first. When he was a teenage boy, as a consequence of declared Jihad, Muslim zealots insisted that everyone on his island convert to Islam or face severe consequences. His family claimed to be Christian. For his grandmother, who was killed by the Muslims at that time, this was an accurate claim. It was 2002.
Ayub was abducted by the Muslim antagonists at age 17, and was taken to a training center where he was forced to study the Koran and Arabic and was threatened that his parents would be killed if he tried to leave. Finally, as he likes to say it, “The Lord made a way for him to escape” from his captors.
But what about his parents? They also claimed to be Christian. He found that they left the small island after the murder and his abduction. But, to Ayub’s dismay they returned later and converted to the Islamic religion in order to do so. Ayub’s struggles led him to a true saving knowledge of Christ. More than merely identifying on paper as a Christian (all Indonesians now have to officially identify their religious connections), he is a vibrant young married believer, serving the cause of Christ with all his heart on the islands of Indonesia where more Muslims live than in any other country in the world.
Serving Christ Wasn’t Meant To Be Easy
Let’s face it, being nominal is a breeze, but standing strong as a true believer can be very costly. Admittedly, this is all the more so where religions clash or atheistic philosophies contend. But it is so for all Christians. “The godly in Christ will suffer persecution,” Peter said. One has to surmise that the reason we see less of this in the West is because we are not so godly. Only two things raise the level of persecution: outside forces philosophically against us, or our own godliness which contrasts so starkly with the world. And the persecution against us can cause collateral damage to family members and close friends because of the convictions we hold.
Will Things Get Worse?
The answer to the above question is, without equivocation, “yes.” Almost all of us who watch what is happening in the world can feel the mammoth plates shifting on the earth, as religions rub violently against each other and unabashed ungodliness presses against our once widely-held notions. Things will change. We all feel it.
We don’t fight against flesh and blood, but with “principalities, with the authorities, with the world dominions of the darkness of the world, with the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). “Heavenly places,” the abode of such forces, is about another realm, another dimension, which is unseen yet still very close to us – not about some place far away. These are the spiritual forces now “working in the sons of disobedience . . . among whom we also all conducted ourselves previously” (Eph 2:2). Remember that Satan silently attended that Supper before Christ’s death– and he entered Judas’ heart.
There’s a way around this persecution. Those who choose to live comfortably with the world will experience little but its commendation. “The world loves its own,” Jesus said. Perhaps one way to tell true Christians is by the scars. Consider that.