Christians in America don't suffer. I mean, not really. Maybe we have to worry about not being able to pay bills or in an extreme case we may have a friend decide they don't like us anymore, but no real hardcore persecution. I know, there are exceptions. But the church here in America needs to wake up. The picture on the right is of young Noviana Malewa (Thanks to Dan Phillips for the picture, you can read his powerful post at Pyromaniacs). Noviana lives in Indonesia and in case you are wondering about the scar; that is where some Islamist tried to cut her head off. Why did they attempt this? Because Noviana is a Christian. With her they failed, however, her three friends were not so fortunate. Or at least that is they way we are trained to think in America. As Stephen was dying a martyrs death, we read in Acts 7:56 that he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This is unusual because Jesus is usually described (by Himself and others) as sitting at the right hand of God. And listen to the words of Revelation 20:4, "Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Stephen, and beheaded martyrs, have a special place around the throne of Jesus Christ. It is an honor that God the Father has called me in Jesus Christ to be His child. It is also an honor that I know I have a sister named Noviana over in Indonesia. I pray that my life will honor Christ with even a part of the glory God has received from this faithful young woman. We need to wake up. Put down the donuts and the Starbucks and start standing up for the gospel. Maybe the reason the Rick Warren's and Joel Osteen's are so popular is because nobody is getting their heads chopped off for that kind of gospel. May God grant all of us grace.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7 "But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort."