Freedom From Persecution Creates Disillusionment
Nik tells us that out of every 10 persecuted believers brought to America, only one in 10 are still practicing their faith after 10 years. Ruth and Nik Ripken have observed this phenomenon while offering freedom from persecution to Christians around the world.
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Are Our Missionaries Safe?
For years, missionary safety has been of paramount importance for the sending church, sending boards, and churches that love to pray for missionaries. However, if missionary safety is the number one issue for families, churches, and agencies that send workers to the field, then there is only one logical conclusion. “We should stop sending them and bring them all home,” Nik remarks.
This may seem like an extreme statement, but if we truly value the safety of our missionaries above all else, then we must recognize the risks involved in sending them to unfamiliar and potentially dangerous places. We cannot guarantee their safety, no matter how much we pray for them or provide them with training and resources.
Nik’s Note on Western Christian Culture
According to Nik, Western Christian culture has attempted to sanitize faith and missions of their rough edges. We want to carry our cross, but we want it to be sanded clean, lightweight, and equipped with training wheels. We do not want it to be something that breaks us down and makes us fall under its weight, as it did for Christ.
But can we truly call ourselves followers of Christ if we are not willing to suffer and face persecution for our faith? Jesus promised that if we follow Him, the world will do to us what it did to Him. “Persecution will be our lot,” Nik explains.
By attempting to remove suffering and persecution from the heart of our faith, Western Christianity has neutered it, rendering it shallow and incomplete. As a result, Nik suggests that we have lost sight of the true cost of discipleship and the radical obedience that Jesus calls us to.
This doesn’t mean that we should deliberately put our missionaries in harm’s way or neglect their safety. We must do all that we can to minimize the risks they face and provide them with the support they need. However, missions can still be dangerous. Nik recognizes that our ultimate goal is not to keep our missionaries safe but to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth, even if it costs us everything.
In conclusion, if missionary safety is our top priority, then we must seriously consider whether we should continue sending missionaries to the field. We must also be willing to embrace the rough edges of our faith and recognize that suffering and persecution are an inevitable part of following Christ. Only then can we fully live out our calling as disciples and fulfill the Great Commission.
A Western Perspective on Persecution and Faith
When these persecuted Christians arrive in a country of religious freedom, they often find that few people are willing to suffer or die for their faith. They wonder why they were willing to sacrifice everything for Christ in their own countries, while believers in the West seem to take their faith for granted.
The willingness to suffer and die for one’s faith is a central theme in the Bible. Jesus suffered and died on the cross, and He calls followers to take up their own crosses and follow Him. However, in the West, we have become so averse to suffering that we have removed the rough edges of our faith. We want to follow Jesus, but only if it is easy and comfortable.
This is a stark contrast to the experience of persecuted Christians, who have often lost everything for their faith. They have been beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for their belief in Jesus. Yet, in the face of such extreme persecution, they have clung to their faith and refused to renounce Christ.
Immigrant Christians Struggle with Disillusionment
When these persecuted Christians come to the West and see how little people are willing to suffer for their faith, it can be a shocking and disillusioning experience. They may wonder if this new country truly values faith, or if it is just a cultural accessory. They may also feel a sense of betrayal. Workers from these Western countries brought them to Christ, but the concern for the cross seems to be lacking.
As a result, many persecuted Christians who relocate to the West may continue to believe in Christ, but they may no longer practice their faith. They may feel that if they can have resurrection without crucifixion, then what is the point of the cross?
Nik calls Western Christians to take our faith seriously and to be willing to suffer or die for our beliefs. He reminds us that martyrs gave their lives to strengthen our faith. The willingness to suffer for Christ is a hallmark of true discipleship. This involves supporting our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, even if it means putting ourselves at risk.
Persecuted Christians are losing their faith after relocating to the West. This reminds us how much we take our religious freedom for granted. We must be willing to embrace the rough edges of our faith and to remember the cost of discipleship.