“Beat you to your house,” Fred said to his best bud Jim before taking off in a sprint.
Jim reached the edge of his parent’s driveway and plunked himself down beside Fred. “You cheated. I would have beaten you.”
“No way. I’m faster,” Fred said, beaming a big smile at his friend.
Jim saw his mother in the window and jumped up. “Gotta go. See ya tomorrow.” As he reached his front door, Jim turned around and watched his buddy disappear down the street. Sadness washed over him as he wondered how his friend would feel when he found out about his family’s recent conversion to Christianity.
This is a fictional, but fact-based story. It happens in many countries today. Boys and girls play together happily at one moment, but worry the next about sharing their faith. In some of our world, Christians worship in secret.
What would it be like to have to hide our true beliefs, and to only praise God behind closed doors? The concept is hard to fathom here in Canada. We live in a country where we are free to express our faith by going to church and raising our hands in worship without the fear of being sent to prison or worse.
Do we as Canadians take this freedom for granted? Very likely we do. We get wrapped up in things like what type of music is best, what clothes to wear, or who’s right on non-doctrinal issues. We can forget to be thankful for being able to worship freely.
Meanwhile, Christians in other countries are being persecuted for their faith, just like in Christ’s time. All we need to do is turn on the television, surf the Internet, or open a newspaper to see it’s still going on today. Foreign Christian aid workers have been killed abroad, believers are wrongly accused of crimes they didn’t commit, Christians are denied access to their town’s water supply, and girls are being abducted just because of their family’s faith. These are just a few examples.
The amazing and powerful thing is that these believers still stand true to their faith, even amidst the persecution.
A recent convert to Christianity, we’ll call him Bob, told me his story of faith and freedom. “Jesus revealed Himself to me in a dream,” Bob said. “That night Jesus brought a fresh wind of the Spirit to me from heaven. He gave me a new lease of life. He passed the good news to me in a country where to be in possession of the Gospels is a crime.” Despite the dangers, he chose to praise God anyway.
The next time we feel like grumbling about something in our church, let’s remember our freedom, and be thankful that we can worship freely. We can raise our hands high in prayer and joy without worrying about who’s watching!