Six Traits I’ve Seen in Persecuted Christians
How should stories of persecuted Christians inspire us as Western Christians? I have had the privilege of meeting and hearing the incredible stories of many of these sisters and brothers. There are six traits that emerge from the testimonies of these Christians that every Christian can benefit from. These are themes that we have witnessed repeatedly in hundreds of interviews with persecuted Christians.
These six traits are universal, biblical themes that we must embrace in order to experience spiritual maturity:
They count the cost of discipleship and willingly pay the price because Christ is worth it.
The Apostle Paul directed Christians to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Jesus Christ is worth any sacrifice!
They are not paralyzed by fear because God has empowered them to embrace risk.
Richard Wurmbrand said, “Jesus never feared or hated any man.” We are called to live courageously, confident that our God is ultimately in control. “Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24).
They rejoice in the midst of their suffering in this world because of their eternal hope in Christ.
In Acts 20:24, we read, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Joy is one of the most surprising themes we witness when we sit with Christians who have been persecuted, but it is almost always present!
They stand firm, resisting any opposition. By God’s strength, they endure and overcome.
Scripture reminds us that “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3b–5).
They allow the Holy Spirit to work supernaturally in their hearts as they obey Christ by loving their enemies and forgiving others as they have been forgiven.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:34a). Jesus demonstrated forgiveness — even as He died. Remarkably, by God’s grace, many martyrs supernaturally demonstrate forgiveness today — even as they or their loved ones die.
They do not allow adversity to cause them to be unfaithful to God’s Word or disobedient to His purposes.
In Revelation 2:10, we read, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The faithfulness of our sisters and brothers who are enduring incredible persecution right now is a model for us.
The I Am N video curriculum (David C. Cook, March 2016) will introduce you, your small group or church to inspirational Christians facing Islamic extremists. We can stand alongside these brothers and sisters, who remain joyful and blessed by their relationship with Christ despite having lost everything they own. The joy they have in Christ is something the extremists cannot take away from them. These Christians are our family members — part of the body of Christ. We will not let them suffer in silence. We will not let them serve alone.
*Photo Caption: Dr. Peters praying with a brother in Sudan