BLOG SERIES // PART 2 // IS YOUR FAITH ILLEGAL?
I remember sitting in a restaurant with Helen as she began to speak about life inside a shipping container. One of the most vivid memories I have from our conversation was when Helen described arriving at the prison, Helen had always heard stories of people being forced to live in containers but never really believed it was true because shipping containers in Africa are used for livestock, definitely not humans.
As the crowded prison van she was travelling in made its way down the dirt road she recalls how quiet everyone was as the other prisoners (murderers, rapists and other serious criminals) all stared out of the windows trying to figure out where they were, what the terrain was like and all jostling to get a first glimpse of their soon to be prison. As they got closer Helen said she remembers being able to see shipping containers but didn’t think too much of it, there were small air holes cut into the very top but they were far too small to be windows so they just dismissed them as actual shipping containers for storing livestock and other things, but then she said we looked closer and I can remember my heart sinking. All I could see were these tiny sets of eyes all peering out of these small windows, I remember saying out loud ‘look, there are people in there, look at the windows’ and surely enough women, children and men all fighting for a look out of these tiny air holes cut into the shipping containers.’ The bus stopped, then everyone was ordered off and Helen says she will never forget the hollow, empty screech of the container door being opened and the guards telling her to get inside...
I went on to ask Helen why she was convicted. Why or how did she possibly end up in this situation? And the answer shocked me, you see, Christianity in Eritrea was not illegal, what was illegal was practicing it with others (i.e. doing church), you were allowed to be a Christian as long as you agreed to practice it by yourself at home, not with others... so why did this answer shock me???
Because, I thought that the ability to be a Christian on your own was a pretty reasonable outcome and one that I would be more than happy to accept, I mean you’re allowed to worship and serve God but for Helen and countless other Christians in Eritrea this was not a good enough answer. Helen said to me ‘Jesus is not a gift you keep to yourself. It is a gift that must be shared and people must hear the Gospel’.... insert that moment where you realise that you’re a complacent safe Christian that has missed the entire point of the Gospel (well that’s how I felt)...
Here is a woman who gets it! I mean she gets the great commission, she gets the idea that the best way to suppress and kill the church is by making it illegal to share the good news and more than that she is willing to go to prison for it.
So, what would you do for Jesus if you weren’t scared?
I could see this new picture, a new understanding and a new fervour beginning to grow inside me, I could feel this nervous worry that my current idea and understanding of Jesus might be desperately in need of a tune up.
What about you? Is your Christianity confined to worshipping by yourself or are you willing to worship and share with others?
For more information about Open Doors and My Heart Bleeds or to book a speaker for you event please follow us on facebook or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org hope you enjoy this series and that it inspires you to chase God harder, speak louder and declare your love for Him.
Submit your encouragement !
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