In an Indonesian restaurant in Sweden, Jonathan, a Swede who grew up in the Congo, shared with us Tulo’s* story. Tulo and 44 of his friends and relatives (to include a two-week old baby), fled Bukavu, Congo to escape an enemy intent on taking their lives. For one month they walked approximately 700 km (434 miles) and lived off monkey meat, fruit and anything else they could scrounge until they reached the city of Kisangani. It took a week in a hospital for Tulo to recover—others remained longer. Miraculously, none of these Jesus-followers died!
In a Catholic Church in the same country, a priest celebrated mass. While the people worshiped, rebels attacked by throwing grenades in the building—killing everyone inside, over 1000 people perished! Anup Shah reports in Conflicts in Africa, “At the end of April, 2001, the International Rescue Committee estimatedthat there have been around 2.5 million deaths since the outbreak of the fighting in August 1998, with the majority dying of malnutrition and disease that has resulted from the war.” Warring tribal factions and soldiers from Rwanda and Uganda are using the unrest to profit from Congo’s vast natural resources.
1 Peter 4:12-14--Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
It was hard to sit across from Tulo and imagine the horrors this quiet young man experienced. By God’s grace through the help of missionaries, he was able to escape to Nairobi, Kenya. Together we prayed for his suffering countrymen. I could not help asking myself soul-searching questions. Why are we so ignorant of a human disaster that dwarfs what happened 9-11? Why is the world media silent about a human tragedy that grows with each passing day? While our government sends troops to Bosnia and Afghanistan, why is it so strangely silent about the slaughter occurring in Africa?
Are we ignorant to the suffering that goes on around us by intention? The top selling books in Christian bookstores are the Left Behind series. It’s all so convenient to believe in the rapture and firmly look forward to bypassing tribulation. But what of our countless brothers and sisters around the world who die or flee every day because they choose to follow Jesus—in Sudan, Somalia, China, Iraq, North Korea, Laos, Pakistan, etc.? Why would God allow them to suffer but airlift us from persecution? Maybe we ought to carefully reevaluate our theology and listen more closely to Jesus who warned,
"There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of My name” (Luke 21:11,12).
Someday in heaven we will sit at the feet of those, who on earth, we would have crossed the road to avoid. In our haste to shun suffering we dishonor our Lord who bled for our sins. God help us!
To “suffer as a Christian” is to suffer because there is an essential difference between you and world which rouses the contempt of the world and the disgust and hatred of the spirit that is in the world.”—Oswald Chambers in The Discipline of Suffering
*Not his real name for protection purposes. If you would like to know how you can get involved helping persecuted Christians contact Voice of the Martyrs (918) 337-8015 or go to www.persecution.com
Statistics from an updated Oxfamreport note the following facts:
©2002 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)