Monday, 31 March 2014

Open Doors Blackout

My decision to join Blackout was down to one video I stumbled upon - Fatima's story.

I could immediately relate to Fatima - she loved God and blogged about it. However soon I realised that my initial assumption, was so wrong - while the worst response I have ever received was an insult, she endured so much more; Fatima lived in an environment that was so harsh to Christianity that she received death threats. My response to these insults were a greater level of cautiousness as I toned down my posts, but she was resilient, fearless, unashamed and did not compromise her belief in Jesus Christ for acceptance or safety. As her tragic story came to an end, Fatima's words echoed in my ears , 'I am unto death, a Christian'. These words challenged me - Fatima stayed faithful till the end, would I do the same?

I have it easy. I enjoy the freedom of religious expression to a certain extent, however I am increasingly aware of the fact that I, am part of a minority. Hence, my friend and I decided to jump on board the Blackout waggon by abstaining from social media for the weekend.

Frankly, it was harder than I thought! The urge to procrastinate, the need to check my notifications and inform myself about others' business, was all too overwhelming. I was at the brink of giving up when I remembered the sacrifices these Christians made for the sake of the Gospel. Their sacrifice demeaned my meaningless, petty social media fast into a 'non-sacrifice'!
What a slap on the face!

Not only that, the Blackout made people question. As a pair, we decided to announce on our social media platforms what and why we are doing this. Friends, both Christian and non-Christian responded - some, just curious, while others gave us a nod of approval.
It truly surprised me to find out that many were oblivious to the level of persecution Christians face. Conversations elucidated the lack of media coverage on such matters - with celebrity gossip headlining numerous reputed newspapers, this comes as no surprise! We plunged into this aiming to educate and equip people to support the persecuted church, with the response shown, I believe we ticked off that box.

Most importantly, the time I once thought I didn't have for prayers and quiet times because I was just 'too busy', appeared from no where. It gave me time to stand one in spirit with the persecuted church. As I reflected on what drove and sustained them through torture, torment and death, the words from a song by Nathan Tasker came to mind,

For a moment there is sorrow, for a moment suffering
but I have seen my tomorrow, and I know where I'm gonna be.
I'll be like a bird set free.
'Cause in the end, I'm going home
I'll go to glory, on Heaven's shores
and as I'm dying, my soul will soar
'cause in the end I know I'm going home

The church has faced persecution for centuries, yet it has stood the test of time - because of its hope in an eternity spent with the Savior. 

Hebrews 13:3 reminds us to 'Continue to remember those in prison as if [we] were together with them in prison, and those who are ill-treated as if [we ourselves] were suffering.' Blacking out has helped me acknowledge the fact that although we might live across the ocean on different continents, oblivious to each other's existence, in Christ we are united, we bear the same cross. Hence it is our duty to support them. If we don't support the church, who will!

Ways in which you can support the persecuted church:
  1. Pray  - in the words of Oswald Chambers, 'Prayer doesn't fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work'. If lost, find prayer guides to help you.
  2. Check out Open Doors and Voice of Martyrs to educate yourself.
  3. You can financially support organisations that work for and with the persecuted church - e.g. If you live in the UK and wish to support Open Doors, just text BLKT14 £_(amount you'd like to give)_ to 70070
Let us forever be reminded that these Christians were so convicted by their trust in Jesus that they shook off all apathy to actively serve the Lord. 
That is what Christianity is all about.
That is the kind of Christianity I pray we in the west, revert to.
Whatever the level of persecution we might face on this earth, may we have the courage to join Fatima in saying, 'I am unto death, a Christian.'