This week, The Way shares a story of persecution to show how it isn't just a first century church thing and it's not just regulated to radical countries, either. Persecution happens everywhere, but it doesn't have to defeat us. Enjoy the story below and share your own story of persecution in the comments.
Imagine, your family has been ostracized from the community you were once a huge part of. Imagine, the friends you had now make fun of you and tease you because of your new found faith. Imagine, the threats your father gets for abandoning one faith for the other.
That's the story of my grandmother, Lily. Her family had been a big part of a Swedish community in upper Wisconsin. Her father played the violin at the local meeting house and her family helped supply the community with fresh maple syrup. Things were great, and then an evangelist showed up.
He came proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ and the importance of Baptism in that name and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. His fire and passion was out of place in this quaint and well-mannered community. However, Lily's father and mother were convicted. As the minister showed them scriptures, not commentaries, creeds or speeches, that showed the validity of his preaching. There was only One individual known as God and His name was Jesus. There was one way to be saved and it was found in the book of Acts:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
This message changed Lily's family. Her father stopped playing at the public house, which upset the men who worked all day and enjoyed his playing. The family stopped going to the local assembly, opting to have study in their home and wait for the traveling minister to make his rounds from time to time. This upset the church because Lily's family was abandoning their faith and church. It got around that Lily's family were speaking in tongues and that sounded like something from the devil. All of this led the members of the community to pull away from Lily and her family.They stopped buying their maple syrup. They turned cold shoulders towards them in public. Lily and her family lost a lot of friends. It was tough for a long while.
Still Lily, her family and a few others soldiered on and eventually had a church to call their own. Through faith, they persevered and it looked like they were going to be okay. However, their troubles weren't over just yet. A group of young men had heard their fathers and other people in the community grumble about the tongue talkers. They listened to the hate and adopted it into their hearts. There is nothing more dangerous than hate in a young man's heart.
These young men stole some dynamite and put it under the church building. They waited outside the building in the shadows for the church members to show up. When everyone was present, the boys stood around daring each other to light the fuse. Something stopped them, though. The hate that had been fueling them was now replaced by fear. Perhaps the scripture came into their mind:
If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:21)
Those boys knew what they were doing wasn't of God. Blowing up a congregation of people wasn't what Christians do. They never lit the fuse. Instead, they apologized for the thought of doing it. How did the congregation respond? With malice or hatred? No, they forgave them. What happened to those boys is unknown to me this day, but the fear God put in them that night preserved the life of my grandmother and it allowed for me to be alive and serving God today.
For this week, your activation is simple. Write in your journal and/or the comments of this section a story of persecution you know about. Have you faced persecution? How did you overcome it? How did God step in to aid you in your time of trouble? Share your testimony and see how God rewards you for the offering.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.