This morning I was pondering what to teach about for my last night of teaching the EBC youth group. I wanted to come up with something that would hopefully tie all of our talks from this past year together and just hit home the main thrust of what we had been studying, which has been knowing what you believe and why, and having an authentic relationship with Christ. About the time I was at a loss for what to talk about tonight, I received a UPS delivery from Interlinc, a club that we are members of that helps supply Christian music and music videos, and teaching aids for the Rec Center. As I was exploring the package I came across a special insert dvd that Interlinc gave us from Voice of the Martyrs.
The dvd was about the persecution of Iraqi christians and how they are following Christ faithfully even though hundreds of thousands are being killed. There were testimonies from teens who were forced to flee their homes and families because they wouldn’t renounce their faith in Christ. In one graphic portion of the dvd the damage from a a church that was attacked by terrorist and bombed was shown. A survivor talked about seeing adults and kids, and his pastor killed before his eyes, yet through that being even more convinced of Jesus’ love for him. Another one of the main people in the film was an Iraqi pastor who has MS and some hard speech problems, but still is going to lead his church even though he must wear a bullet proof vest and risk his life just trying to make it to church. This pastor talked about how he baptized 13 people one week and by the next week 11 of the 13 people had been killed for their faith. He said that they are not afraid because they have the Perfect Love of Jesus and when the dvd came to an end, it ended with a quote from this pastor who said they don’t fear because they have lost everything and when everything is gone they still have Jesus!
As I watched the dvd, I was really moved. We have so much freedom here yet we are scared to show our love for Christ and share Him with our family and friends. All we really stand to lose is social standing and feeling awkward, yet we are far to often chicken. We have brother’s and sisters around the world who daily risk their lives to follow Christ, knowing full well what persecution they will face. It was just very convicting to me personally to be more bold in my relationship with Christ and to pray more for my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being persecuted.
With these thoughts in mind I decided to show this video too the teens tonight. While we have been talking to them about having an authentic relationship with Christ, I wanted to show them what truly being sold out to Christ looks like for believers around the world. Our students often let everything from friends, family, school, sports, and all kinds of other stuff keep them from coming to church or sharing their faith. Yet people around the world are risking their lives to do just that, could our students say they would be that dedicated? Also, I wanted to tie back in the importance of knowing what you believe and why. If the students aren’t totally sold out to Christ and know why, then when struggles or persecution arise it is too easy to deny Him. These people in Iraq who are being persecuted know who they believe in and why, and because of that are willing to die if necessary.
As we showed the dvd tonight I could see several of the kids were shocked at what they saw and many were emotionally moved. I think this type of persecution is not only something that a lot of our students have never seen, but many probably have never heard about. And now hopefully they will pray for these fellow believers who desperately need their prayers. We also encouraged them to pray for the persecutors as well.
Erin and I are really praying that God will use this presentation from tonight to encourage our students to authentic relationships with Christ and boldness in sharing Him. We also hope that causes them to pray more for persecuted Christians and their persecutors. As we step aside and the new youth pastor takes over next week, our prayer is that hopefully in this past year we have been able to show our students the love of Christ and the need for them to have a vibrant, growing relationship with Him. Apathy should never be an option, our Lord wants and needs sold out students who are bold for Him and the Gospel!