FLEEING PERSECUTION


STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

FLEEING PERSECUTION
===================
When you are persecuted in one place, flee
to another. Matthew 10:23a

One of the clear biblical responses to
persecution is to flee. But it is not
the only response. Thus it is imperative that the persecuted believer is sure
that his running away is in
the will of God. History is full of examples of
Christians who relocated
because of religious persecution.

The early Christians in Jerusalem were
not obeying Jesus’ orders in Acts 1:8
(evangelize to the ends of the earth) so God allowed an Acts 8:1 (persecution)
to send them on their way. The
original text indicates the persecution
accomplished the will of God for as
they scattered abroad, they went
“gossiping” the gospel (Acts 8:4). The first
meaning of the word “gossip” was
“to chat” or “rehearse.” The early
Christians, when scattered by persecution,
could not help but repeat the
glorious message of the gospel to everyone they
met.

The Apostle Paul
left Damascus over the wall in a basket when a life threat
was discovered
early in his ministry. He was not just trying to avoid
persecution, but he
knew it was not yet God’s timing for his life and ministry
to end. That
occurred years later in Rome.

Today an Egyptian Christian leader is in
hiding because he has the highest
price on his head—four times more than
Osama Bin Laden ever had. Zakaria
Botross’ entire life story is that of
defying death. The total price for his
elimination (a fatwa), at last report,
was one hundred million dollars. This
is because his ministry to Muslims is
so challenging, effective and
productive. If his arguments cannot be
countered then his voice must be
silenced.

He was one of the most
striking figures of the Coptic Orthodox Church. In 1964
he had a conversion
experience which changed the direction of his ministry to
thousands of
people. Not only did Father Zakaria preach for conversions to
Christ and to
strengthen believers, he also effectively rebutted accusations
against
Christianity made by Islamic leaders. He is a scholar of ancient
Arabic and
knows the Koran and the Hadith (Islamic traditions) so thoroughly
that
Islamic scholars find it difficult to refute his teaching or counter
his
challenges.

His zealous activities could not help but attract the
notice of the
authorities of the State. He was removed from his church. Twice
he experienced
imprisonment for ministering to Muslims and leading them to
faith in Jesus. He
was accused of the ultimate crime, evangelizing Muslims
and thereby inciting
religious factionalism. Then he was deported and exiled
from Egypt. His
subsequent ministry in Australia and the UK was successful
but not with
everyone’s approval.

Today as an elderly senior, he lives
in hiding in the West because more than
sixty million people—most are
Muslims—watch his satellite TV programs and
visit his website. Countless
millions across the Arabic speaking world are
turning to Christ annually
because of his ministry.

Like the Apostle Paul, Father Zakaria runs and
hides, not because he is afraid
of dying, but by defying death has been able
to have the most effective
ministry in the world to Muslim
people.

RESPONSE: Today I will resolve to only run from persecution when
I know it is
the will of God.

PRAYER: Pray for leaders like Zakaria
Botross who have to live in hiding
because of their effective ministry for
the Lord and His church.

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