Subtle Persecution

July 19, 2013
by Joel Jongkind

Every so often, we read about Christians being persecuted or killed for their faith — sometimes individuals, sometimes groups of people as they worship. I read one time that more Christians were killed for their faith during the 20th century than have been martyred in the whole previous history of Christianity.

It all started when Stephen, the deacon who was added when the apostles' workload became too heavy, gave his impassioned speech to the Sanhedrin about his faith in Christ.

Acts 7:54,57-58 – When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. (NKJV)

Stephen was the first martyr who was killed for his faith. Many met the same fate, and it is still happening, even now. But there is also subtle persecution of believers.

When we lived in Vienna, Austria, in the late 1960s, we attended the Vienna Community Church, a group of English-speaking people who gathered every Sunday for worship. One time, as a mission project, rather than send some money somewhere, we brought a Baptist minister, his wife, and daughter from Czechoslovakia to Vienna for a week. Someone at the British Embassy got them visas, which was hard to do at that time. The iron curtain was still there, and the people who lived behind it were hardly ever allowed to travel. The minister and his wife stayed at our place. We had long talks with them about their situation. They were allowed to worship, but they could not be involved in any government activities, like teaching school, nor could they work for any branch of government, unless they openly and officially denied their Christian faith.

Their daughter, who was 26 years old, was well educated and able to teach at the university level, which is what she wanted to do. But she could not get a job unless she officially renounced her faith. She refused to do this, so she worked in a shoe factory.

Here in Canada, we are not threatened in such a fashion, but in subtle ways, the Christian faith is being eroded. We read about it almost every day: the elimination of prayer in public places, the removal of Christian symbols, and the multiplication of Sunday sports and Sunday shopping. This has happened as a result of apathy on the part of Christians, too many things to do on Sunday, and too many other involvements.

Sometimes we despair; sometimes we get downright discouraged; but as church members and as individuals, we can carry on bringing the good news to all who want to hear. The discussions with our guests from Czechoslovakia convinced us that we must never give up. We must keep on working and praying, all of us.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray for those who are persecuted for their faith even now, and we ask that You will give them and us the strength and the ability to carry on and bring Your Word to all who want to hear. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Joel.


    Thank you Joel for pointing out how we can make changes.


    Joel, this is awesome and thank you for sharing with us today. I enjoyed this very, very, much. I thank God for my fredom to worship him as I can and pray for others who can’t. May God continue to bless you.


    Thanks, Joel. You are so right about this topic. The erosion which begins so simply such as a plea to understand such things are so because some folks can only shop on Sunday, then rather snowballs, doesn’t it?
    (Texas)


    Thank you for writing about this important topic and the testimony you shared. I always enjoy your stories from Austria – its a beautiful country and I have relatives there so I appreciate the backdrop of your devotionals.
    Peace and Blessings.


    Joel, as I read your devotional today, the old hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers”, came to my mind. It bothers me that we are having so many of our Christian ways taken from us, & we sit back and take it. Indeed as in the old hymn we must keep marching on keeping the Cross of Jesus before us. Thank you for your message.


    Thank you Joel. Christian teachers and nurses suffer much subtle persecution in Canada. I have worked in six provinces as a nurse where I experienced persecution often myself. It was impossible to mention prayer or the Bible to a patient. As a mother and grandmother I saw persecution often of teachers. For example the teaching and singing of Christmas carols is almost impossible to do.


    Joel,
    Thanks for your words today; It is encouraging to hear from people who will not compromise the truth for public opinion.
    I am preaching on the uniqueness of Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so your thoughts were doubly appropriate.
    Blessings.


    Thanks Joel,
    I really learned something this morning. Maybe I have been living in a fool’s paradise about things abroad but I do notice how Christianity is being edged out in our schools, universities, and institutions. But in any situation for which I can find no solution I pray about it. God, I am certain, can solve any problem and will never leave His chosen to fend for themselves. And the gospel of salvation will be preached. It has overcome many obstacles in the past and will continue to do so until He comes again.
    Blessings.


    Excellent message, Joel.
    Sadly, nobody, even in places of high authority seems willing to stand for the values that made America/Canada the countries they are today.
    The lack of adherence to maintaining the founding fathers’ corner stone for us to follow (with Christian beliefs and faith) is shown by the lack of respect for all things good, by many these days.
    We can stand fast and continue to spread the Word; continue to live according to God’s commandments and pray – pray – pray for the salvation of those who are lost.
    Canada, sadly, seems too ready to ‘bend’ to please other cultures, rather than have other cultures/faiths respect ours.
    Thank you for a thought-provoking devotional and for sharing.


    Dear Joel,
    Such a sad but necessary message. We are far to lax in our need to face the realities of the fast downward spiral of the numbers of persons who stand up and be real Christians.
    Thanks especially for:
    We must keep on working and praying, all of us.
    Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray for those who are persecuted for their faith even now, and we ask that You will give them and us the strength and the ability to carry on and bring Your Word to all who want to hear. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.


    Dear Joel:
    You are right. Persecution comes in many forms: sometimes outright and violent persecution as experienced in totalitarian or theocratic states; sometime almost unconscious in the form of the increasing secularization of the Sabbath and public life in general and sometimes the more discreet social pressures ranging from the characterization of professed Christians as Jesus Freaks or the denigration of the faithful by “public figures” (e.g. President Obama’s famous comment about frustrate and embittered people clinging to religion). However, as I have noted to acquaintances when they are pushing the “separation of church and state”* (more accurately the suppression of church by state), the church typically flourishes during periods of persecution where the fire of oppression serves to refine and strengthen the truly faithful.
    *It is interesting to note that the US constitution does not speak of the separation of Church and State but only prohibits the creation of an established (i.e. state supported) church by the Federal government. Separation of Church and State was a doctrine originally developed by the Catholics and Baptists in response to their perception of the excessive influence of the old “established” churches in public life. Now they are the biggest opponents of separation. Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.


    Interesting devotional today…tho’ I wonder if we should worry as much about all the public removals of symbols of our faith as we should about our inability to accept sinners among our midst, accept (and then properly deal with) issues of mental health, and accept the fact that instead of offering up platitudinous comments about Palestinians and Aboriginals we should be making significant investments with them in their respective economies. Perhaps what brought communism to its knees quicker than anything was the willingness of Christians to invest real monies (such as your invitation & action to bring the people to Vienna) in giving people the chance to better themselves.
    When I was in a very dark space/place in my life, few in the church even cared let alone reached out. It is not whether we keep prayers or symbols in public places no much as whether we actually live Christ’s command to love our neighbour as our selves.
    Keep writing tho’ – it is always good to be stimulated to reflect on our faith early in the morning.


    Your message is so true. Here in Canada, there is a very subtle form of discrimination.
    I find many acquaintances think it is “stupid” to attend church.


    Thank you Joel. Christian teachers and nurses suffer much subtle persecution in Canada. I have worked in six provinces as a nurse where I experienced persecution often myself. It was impossible to mention prayer or the Bible to a patient. As a mother and grandmother I saw persecution often of teachers. For example the teaching and singing of Christmas carols is almost impossible to do.


    Great story.
    Sad that the world has grown to the state it is in….but then, Revelations allows to us what is to come.
    I had a casual friend make a comment the other day. ‘ your one of those’ and I proudly allowed that I was a believer and from my faith came the power to overcome all things through the mysteries of JESUS. Knowing him, he will ponder over the word ‘mysteries’ and that will open further questions from him. Fishing, I am. He will ask, and I will share.
    I KNOW that FATHER supplies strength to HIS believers. I have often thought how it will progress. One thing I know is that FATHER, through JESUS will provide all we need as long as we hold fast to our faith.
    In reminding others to guard their ‘eternity’ I also remind myself to do the same. Our life is like an old flash bulb used in photography.
    Short duration. but eternity…I cannot fathom. Never ending. Now that is something to experience. Since I have a choice in the climate, I will choose the pleasant climate. I am most grateful that FATHER grants us free choice.
    My prayer for you.
    That you always enjoy health, happiness with prosperity all the days of your life, till called home by FATHER.
    AMEN & AMEN
    (Texas, USA)


    Thanks Joel for the devotional. I have always been grateful for the fact that none of the school districts for which I worked in Canada ever restricted the Bible or prayers in their schools. It pains me to see the encroachment of heathen thinking into the schools today and the unjustifiable odium teachers of faith must suffer. But, it does provide solace for the believers since it is a sign of the times. Our Lord will reward both good and evil.
    Blessings.


    Dear Joel,
    Thank you for your thoughtful devotional. I must confess that am party to those subtle ways of leaving God out of the situation. We have only just started to once again say grace in restaurants before or meals and give thanks after. I also now part from people with “God bless” instead of my usual “See you.”

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