“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”
Revelation 6:9-11 ESV
I am saddened to learn of the brutal killing of nearly 150 Christian college students at Garissa University College in Kenya on Friday, April 3rd, known to Christians as “Good Friday”. I cannot understand the kind of hatred those four gunmen must have had toward those they gunned down to treat them as they did, singling out Christians for execution. I cannot find words to express my sympathy for their family members who must now deal with this tragic loss.
While the news saddens me, I am comforted by the promise that these martyred individuals hold a special place in God’s heart and near His throne in heaven, as John writes in Revelation 6. We can also trust that in His time, and in His way, God will hold accountable those responsible, and not just those who fired the shots, but those who encouraged and even instructed them to do so.
I am also saddened to see the increasing persecution that Christians are beginning to see in our own country. When people stand up for their deeply held and Scripturally inspired beliefs, they are called “haters” or “bigots”. Jesus told us that this would be coming. In John 15:18-19, He said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
While it is a sad day when we hear of such things happening, we should remember that although the world seeks to silence and eradicate the church through these acts of persecution, history records that the reality is that it has the opposite effect. Christians may move to areas of less persecution, but they take the gospel with them, and bring God glory there, but expanding the borders of the church.
Let’s not fail to pray for those who are dealing with such harsh persecution on a regular basis, and for the families of those left behind, that their faith will not waiver, even in the face of such incredible hardship pain and loss. May their stories be told again and again, and may those stories embolden those who hear to stand firm in their faith.
In the words of the writer of Hebrews, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:23-25 ESV)
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen