Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
I have referenced my trip to Afghanistan a few years ago as part of a Christian NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) in a number of devotionals. It was truly a wonderful, eye-opening trip. I treasure the memories of the Afghan Christians and Christian workers I encountered on that trip. Seeing first hand, the deadly cultural reality faced by Afgans who become Christian there was a stunning reality for me.
The leader of our NGO and I would take prayer walks in the mornings after our arrival. During those initial walks, he first assured me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Then, speaking of the gospel, he went on to instruct me that I must always be aware of the fact that, “Here in this Muslim culture – the wrong word at the wrong time could get someone killed.” Wisdom and an awareness of who was hearing what was being said were absolutely required.
Totally new to me was coming to grips with a common reality that men and women who had accepted Christ were then unable to share that with their Muslim spouse or family. How could an Afghan who had genuinely been changed by Christ be silent? The answer was the knowledge that in their Muslim culture, the extended family would likely kill the believing spouse when they learned of their Christian faith. This wasn’t – and isn’t – ‘urban legend’ but a reality that happened to people they knew first hand and had worked with.
This also kept many Afghan Christians from becoming part of an underground church – or any Christian gathering for that fact. They didn’t know who they could trust and who might be there for the hidden purpose of identifying them. The exposure could result in their death. Recognizing this ever present threat shielded me from the temptation to become judgmental and question the reality of their faith. My western background had never encountered anything like this.
Gordon Conwell Seminary did some research a few years ago and developed the estimate that each year 171,000 Christians are martyred for their faith. That is a big number and given the increased slaughter going on throughout the world, that number is likely too low today. Those are all brothers and sisters in Christ who lost their lives simply because they believed in Jesus. The difficulties we face pale in comparison to the dangers many Christians around the world face – and that isn’t even addressing the poverty of their societies compared to the wealth we have in the west.
Thank God for the many Christian workers who are going to the nations to share the ‘true wealth’ of the Gospel of Christ. Praise God for the untold number of conversions throughout the world due to God giving dreams and visions of Jesus – sometimes to entire villages. Millions of Muslims worldwide are becoming Christians each year. They respond to the love of God and the Good News of the Gospel just like we did! May our hearts be moved to prayer and compassion for these believers – our brothers and sisters. May their joy be overflowing as they grow in the wonder of our Lord.