April 1, 2006
Abdul Rahman became a follower of Jesus Christ while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. After returning to his native Afghanistan, while carrying an Arabic translation of the Bible, Rahman was arrested and put on trial for rejecting Islam by converting to Christianity. The "crime" is an offense that is punishable by death under the Afghan consitution, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law.
Rahman rejected numerous offers to reject Christianity and to again embrace Islam. "I am," he says, "a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ."
Abdul Roulf, a moderate Muslim cleric, stated the conviction of many religious leaders and people in Afghanistan, "This man must die." Responding to the pressure to release Rahman, the cleric exclaimed, "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left."
As of Wednesday (03.29.06) Rahman had been released and had gone into exile in Italy. For his faith in Jesus Christ, Rahman lives a a marked man.
The testimony of Abdul Rahman is repeated around the world each day by our brothers and sisters in Jesus. They testify from their jail cells. They give testimony before those who torture them. They doggedly share Jesus with those who mock and ridicule them.
Tom White, Director of Voice of the Martyrs, writes, "Some have a misconception about Christians in captive nations, thinking they are more dedicated or live more excited lives than those in the West. In our nation where we have religious freedom, we may envy those believers who sneak around at night on a motorbike using a little flashlight in the jungle to deliver Bibles and other materials and assistance. Christians need this courage wherever we live."
Wherever God has placed us it takes courage to stand for Jesus. We live within a battle for the eternal destiny of humankind. We are at war. The enemy (Satan) will use every means to destroy us or keep us from effective service for our Savior (Ephesians 6:10-17; 1 Peter 5:8). Even here in the USA, to stand for Jesus Jesus takes a sacrifice and commitment that many resist making.
The writer of Hebrews gives us this encouragement and challenge: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing on our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the same, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3).
To give our lives to Jesus means that we will also give every thing to follow Him. To seek to emulate His example in the way we live our lives each day. To serve courageously as our Christian siblings also serve Jesus in captive nations. As those who believe in the resurrection and return of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, let us courageously share His Gospel with others. Let us not shrink back from giving all in service for Him.
And then joy. For Jesus, the way of the cross was the path to the right hand of the throne of God. Let us take courage that through the cross comes the joy of God's pleasure, reward, and blessing.
Each day God gives us the opportunity to stand for Him. WIll we take it?