Why Are Persecuted Christians So Thankful?

You have probably read stories of persecuted Christians who have said with all sincerity that they were “honored to be tortured for Christ.” How is it that the persecuted church can be so thankful in the face of such horror, even death?

Persecuted Christians can indeed inspire and challenge us to be thankful no matter what circumstances we are in. But how do they do it? What motivates them to have that attitude of thankfulness? Here are some reasons that they are thankful even in hard situations. Maybe we can learn something from them.

1. They have first-hand experience of the transforming power of Jesus.

You see, when you come from darkness, you appreciate the light even more.

In America and the West, we often don’t realize how many Christian values have become an expected part of the culture. Yes, Western society has many problems, but we still value kindness, mercy, love, and human dignity as a part of our framework. We notice and are even outraged when these points of spiritual light are missing because we are used to them and take them for granted.

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“You see, when you come from darkness, you appreciate the light even more.”

In Islamic countries, there is such spiritual darkness. People live with cruelty, judgment, and death as expected norms. In Islam, individual lives do not have much value. This kind of dark environment creates such hopelessness in people that Muslims who become Christians experience major change and joy.

From hatred to love, from hopelessness to hope, from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom—many Muslim-background Christians experience change in an extreme way.

This extreme change from darkness to light creates a great appreciation—thankfulness—for the One who brought about that change. And so these believers are willing and ready to suffer for Christ and not deny him, no matter how harsh the persecution.

2. They realize their desperate need for walking with Jesus.

Persecuted Christians easily realize that Jesus is all they need, so he is all they want. Walking daily with Jesus is not an option for them but a desperate need. Being willing to suffer for Christ is tied directly to thankfulness.

For many of us in the West, we know what Jesus did for us, but we do not see our desperate need to walk with him daily. If we do not read the Bible daily, pray regularly, or go to church weekly, we often don’t notice an immediate, negative impact in any kind of major or tangible way. For us, a vibrant, deep spiritual walk with the Holy Spirit seems optional. Therefore, for us in the West, we have to be intentional about remembering what Jesus has done for us. When we do that, we will be more thankful—and as a result, make a decision to walk with him daily.

3. They see suffering as a way to say “Thank You” to Jesus.

When persecuted Christians suffer for Christ, what they are doing is actively saying “Thank You” to Jesus in the best way they can. They are replying to his sacrifice with sacrifice of their own. And they are honored to do it!

Many persecuted Christians are even willing to give their lives for Jesus. Of course, Jesus does not ask such martyrdom from every believer. But we can still welcome suffering for him out of our thankfulness. The giving of time and finances is a sacrifice that the Lord recognizes and appreciates—especially when it is a result of our thankfulness for what he has done for us. It truly blesses him! Can you imagine the joy it is to know that Jesus feels blessed by something you do? The thanks you give him by willingly choosing to sacrifice your time, talents, and treasure for him?

In this season of thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to give your time and finances—not because you should, not because of obligation—but out of thankfulness.

Consider the darkness Jesus has delivered you from with his sacrifice. If you are thankful for the light, then reply with sacrificial thanks giving.

“We have to be intentional about remembering what Jesus has done for us. When we do that, we will be more thankful.”STACKED #GT Logo

Tuesday, November 28 is #GivingTuesday, a global thanksgiving movement that is helping to spread light throughout the world. If you are thankful for Jesus, would you partner with us and give sacrificially to what he is doing for Muslims and persecuted Christians in Iran?

Imagine the joy of Jesus when you say to him, “Thanks, it is an honor to serve you.”


To receive stories about persecuted Christians in Iran and learn more about how to support them and reach other Muslims hungry for the gospel, text “Iran” to 74784.


Related Articles:

Seymore, Julia A. “Christianity Thrives in Iran Despite Severe Persecution.” ChristianHeadlines.com, April 4, 2016.

Lessons from the Persecuted Church: Do You Take Jesus for Granted?

We Are Obsessed with the End Times, But Not with Its Author

We Christians in the West seem to have a growing appetite for writing and reading books about the end times. We want to know how the events of the Middle East relate to the prophesies in the Bible. We want to know how nuclear Iran and militant ISIS and Russia are part of the end-time events. End-time prophecies get our attention.

Understanding the end times is a good thing.

But what are we doing with all that knowledge? Most of us are satisfied with just knowing and forget what the Lord commands us about doing. We forget that whenever there is talk of the end-time events in the New Testament, that discussion is for three purposes:

(1) to give courage and comfort to persecuted Christians

(2) to motivate Christians to live a holy life

(3) to remind Christians to get busy doing the Lord’s work

Much is happening around the world that should concern us as Christians because we can make a major difference.news-end-times-google God reveals future events with an intention for us to get busy. He wants His church to be a part of History (His Story) and make history.
Most of us, however, are merely observers, at best keeping ourselves busy by matching Bible prophecies to events. Very few get involved in what God is doing.

Bible prophecies should motivate us to keep occupied with His work until He comes back.

You Are the Solution

Every night, we watch news about Islamic violence around the world: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mali, Paris, San Bernardino. The list goes on and on. It looks like nothing shocks us anymore. Nothing can make us wake up from our spiritual drowsiness. We hear what ISIS and other terror groups (including Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas, and wings of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard) are doing around the world, not realizing that we are called to be a major part of the solution.

We have the answer to ISIS, and we are quiet.

The military alone cannot stop ISIS and other terror groups. Islam is a religion of violence that feeds on, grows, and gets stronger with violence. We have seen this occur in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and many other places. The answer is the love of Jesus. It’s the love of Jesus through you. As Ephesians 4:15 tell us, sharing the truth of the Gospel with love is the key that unlocks the closed doors of Islam and will set Muslim captives free.

So many in the U.S. (and in this election cycle) want to push Muslims out of our country and let the Middle East destroy itself. Will you decide to reach out to your Muslim neighbor and get to know him? Will you share Jesus with the woman wearing a hijab walking down your sidewalk or in your grocery store? Millions of Iranian Muslims are desperately waiting for you and me to do our part. Will you see what God is doing in Iran and join the cause to transform Iran into a Christian nation in this generation?

You have Jesus’s love. What will you do with it? I pray you will join me and get busy.

Lessons from the Persecuted Church: Do You Take Jesus for Granted?

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Lessons from the Persecuted Church

A couple weeks ago I asked if you were ashamed of the Gospel. Today I have another question: If you truly appreciate what Jesus has done for you, you will love what He loves. If not, you may be taking Him for granted.

 

  1. For many in the West, experiencing Jesus daily is not a desperate need but a mere option.

 

For the persecuted church, walking with Jesus and experiencing Him daily is not an option but a desperate need. Their lives are so empty of hope and joy that Jesus is the only source and strength they have.Family in front of TV 2

 

In the West, we have many resources for comfort—something that most of the world only dreams about. We live with abundance and rarely feel a desperate need to spend our waking moments in Jesus’s presence. Yes, sometimes in our troubles we cry out to Him, but this is rarely a daily thing.

 

  1. Our relationship with Jesus is often based just on need, not true love for Him.

 

The persecuted church not only has a continuous need to experience Jesus, but also it has a deep love for Him. Coming from darkness, they appreciate light. Coming from the depths of hopelessness, desperation, and loneliness, they value His constant presence. Understanding well what He has done for them, they are ready to live and even to die for Him. Someone has said, “You don’t know Jesus is all you need until He is all you have.”

 

I don’t want to put down the faith of my brothers and sisters in the West. But this is a reality we must face: The persecuted church desperately needs Him and continuously seeks His presence; we don’t think we need Him as much and continuously do not seek His presence.

 

That is why for us walking with Jesus must be intentional. We must make a conscious decision to read His word, obey Him, and walk in the Spirit. We must choose to be faithful to His Church. We must decide to love what He loves and who He loves.

 

  1. The Church in the West is experiencing Jesus less and less because it is obeying His command to “Go” less and less.

 

In Matthew 28:19–20, Jesus promises His continuous presence when we obey His commandment to go: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…And surely I am with you always.” It is in the going that His presence goes with us. In the comfort of us staying and focusing on our lives—to make them a little more comfortable—it is hard to experience deeply the presence of Jesus. The Church in the West is experiencing Jesus less and less because it is “going” less and less. The persecuted Christians have a zeal to share their faith even when they know they may end up in jail or be killed for it.

 

We are moving toward worldwide chaos and violence. The Islamic State (ISIS) and militant Islam will not fade away. Muslims have a mandate by Quran to take over the world by violence. ISIS is actively doing it, and more and more Muslims are waking up to that call. Members of ISIS are not fanatic Muslims but committed and obedient Muslims.

 

The disturbing point is that ISIS is obeying its mandate more vigorously than most Christians do. They are commanded to “go,” and they are ready to kill and die to obey that mandate.

 

We Christians also have a “go” mandate. How are we obeying the mandate of our Lord in Matthew 28? As ISIS brings death and the bad news, we must bring life, love, and the good news. The Gospel is much more powerful than the message of the Quran (obey or die)—but only if we share it. We have the Holy Spirit and the power of God’s word. We can defeat any dark spirit and theology of death—but only if we go and get into the action.

Will you decide today to walk with Jesus? Will you love what He loves? God has prepared Iran for a major transformation. The people of Iran are ready.

“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” —2 Cor 5:15, NIV