Persecution: Do we really have a clue?



I will never forget my friend from Pakistan. 

I met him at Bible school in Germany.  One evening, while hanging out in the lecture hall he told me a story about what life was like for him in Pakistan.

He told me that one time militant Muslim extremists (it is important to note that faithful, practicing Muslims are not militant extremists and that Islam practiced faithfully is a faith of peace) put him in the back of a car, took him to a building, force fed him and hung him upside down.  The next thing he remembers is his mother sitting over his bedside crying.  Still he believed in a God that, in his words, is ‘much bigger.’  There was sacrifice and faith staring me in the face.

I walked out of the lecture hall that night introduced to true sacrifice in the name of faith.  It was a sacrifice I had not known in my many years in North American Christian circles.  To believe was a matter of life and death.   

It was a moment, a person, who has been significantly formative to my faith.  It scared the crap out of me.  But sacrifice in the name of faithfulness has a tendency to do that.

A few weeks after he shared that story with me, we found out that his family had to disown him for fear of persecution themselves.  It was a trying time for many of us who supported him.

We come up against resistance because of faith in many places and spaces in North America.  After all, we are moving increasingly into a time where the story of Jesus is not known. Yet I am not so sure that the majority of us have a clue what persecution is… 

We have much to learn from the global church!!!!!

Have you ever been persecuted for faith?  Do we really have a clue about persecution? 

I am thankful for my friend from Pakistan. I am happy to write that he is doing great and living in Germany.


  1. Robert Martin · August 21, 2012

    We are so fortunate and blessed here in the US and Canada that we have the relative safety to practice our faith.

    However, as you pointed out, that may be changing. While what we are experiencing in general is not persecution, there are some who are faced with threats to their livelihood because of their choices based upon their faith. Best example that comes to mind is the photographer who turned down business towards a homosexual couple and has been sued and threatened with criminal proceedings. Whether or not you agree with their stance, they have a conviction based on faith that they do not want to condone same-sex marriage through their business. Perhaps this still does not measure up to your Pakistani friend but to not be able to make a living because of your faith stance seems to be leaning in that direction.

    • chris lenshyn · August 21, 2012

      I was just remembering the guy who shot a bunch of people in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. While we do not see that type of violence with regularity it still exists on all sides of the faith spectrum… even in North America.

      In saying all that, persecution is a hard thing to fully grasp. It is to the point that I seriously wonder what my response would be.

  2. Mike Friesen · August 21, 2012

    While I don’t think the Church is being persecuted that often, I do think that it is suffering. Suffering, in a way that Kierkegaard would put it. They’re suffering and they don’t even know that they are suffering. That was his foundation for Post-Christendom. And, maybe this is a form of spiritual (from the evil powers that be) or metaphysical persecution.

    In America, most often, the enemy is not outside of us, but within us.

    Good stuff Chris.

    • chris lenshyn · August 21, 2012

      I appreciate your distinction between the church suffering and facing persecution. While churches that face persecution are suffering no doubt, the church in North America does not know this persecution but is indeed suffering as you say. Yet, in the suffering is a great hope in which we lay our foundation as we engage our particular time and place.

      Thanks Mike.

  3. Greg D · August 31, 2012

    As a missionary serving in a Muslim-dominated country I am always humbled whenever I see a person considering the cost of becoming a Christian. Because they know that they might not only be disowned by his/her family, but will likely be ostracized by their friends and people in their community. One new believer told me of his experience at the gym and how a Muslim man came up to him infuriated that he was wearing a cross on his necklace. The angry man grabbed the cross and tore it off his neck and said, “we don’t need that s*&# around here!” Another young man told me that if his parents found out that he was attending our Bible studies, they would be kicked out of the house. Considering the cost. Something we Americans don’t have to wrestle with.

    • Chris Lenshyn · August 31, 2012

      Wow. Thanks for sharing this… and for your work. I am always humbled when I hear stories like this. Particularly relating to cost.


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