Courage in an Era of Fear
Part 4: Spiritual Fugitives
She was on the run, in protective custody of the church. She was a young twenty-something mother of a little girl who had to flee her own home when she converted from Islam to Christianity. She was a prisoner in her own country, a wanted woman who could not leave. She was a fugitive on the run with nothing but her little girl and her faith. Somehow or another she found this little church in West Africa where I first met her. The bond was immediate since she, like me, was and is full-blooded Lebanese. When I heard her story I wanted to help get her out of the country. Her pastor explained that the woman’s politically powerful husband had spies every where and escape was almost impossible. Unlike Jack Bauer of the popular American television show 24 I could not figure out a way to whisk her away. When my mission trip ended we lost contact with her. Her whereabouts today is not known.
What I recall most about her was her strong belief that God had her back. She trusted Him to keep her and her baby girl safe from a husband who would have killed her on the spot if he ever caught her. Converts from Islam to Christ always face this threat. They become fugitives from their own families. And yet joy and peace…While I was teaching local African pastors one of the students received a note during my class. He told the class someone had just handed him a life threatening message. I was immediately concerned that we end the class and get him to safety. This part time pastor, part time taxi driver looked at me with laughter in his eyes as though I had just lost my mind. My thought, “Let’s get out of here. Someone wants to kill you.” His thoughts, “I came to this class to learn how to be a pastor. I get these threats all the time. This is how we live. Now preacher, teach us the Word.”
Another fugitive living in the real prospect of imminent death and yet, joy and peace…In America many define persecution as someone disagreeing with a “Christian position” on our social media post or being told by an employer to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas!” Or if our boss tells us to leave our Bible at home or our teacher denounces our faith as unintellectual. Church members expend enormous energy on anger and bitterness if the pastor doesn’t speak to them in the hallway or neglects to visit them in the hospital. I wonder how these African brothers and sisters might react to such complaints. Perhaps our American churches need a fresh dose of Nestor or Siriki or Adama, all men who are fugitives in the real sense of the word.
I cannot help but wonder what the propagation of the Gospel in America would look like with a fresh dose of genuine “fugitivitis.” Hear the Word of God:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV)
I am a new creation! If you know Jesus, so are you! The truth of forgiveness and reconciliation transforms fugitives into free men and women, emboldened by the righteousness of our God. How will this truth make a difference in the way I respond to the mundane tasks of today? How about you?
In His grip,
Digging Deeper: 2 Corinthians 5:16 – 21