Editor’s note: this post is part of Smyrna’s Insight series — a collection of posts that reflect a view of prayer for the persecuted church that is often overcome by our emotions in the face of horrors visited upon Christians by Muslims in many countries.
This Insight isn’t in my normal style. It’s not stuffed with research and it’s not a call to awareness…instead it is a simple glimpse into what I’m learning about praying for the Church under Islam from talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Her British accent took me a little off guard.
She was with her teenage daughter, both standing on my porch with big smiles, a little damp from the wet April weather.
She held out some papers.“I see you have little ones – this will help you!” Renee handed me literature about how to raise respectful children…as my two year old son is busy squishing ants on the sidewalk.
“Aaah. You guys are Jehovah’s Witnesses?” I ask, after glancing through their brochures. Renee (name changed) eagerly affirmed this, and for the next twenty minutes, we stood on my porch as she tried to convince me that Jesus was not divine, but was created by God, and that the Holy Spirit is simply just an expression of God working, and that everything that I believe about God and Jesus and the Spirit that raised Him from the dead is just because I haven’t been taught the right things by the right people, and because I’ve been reading from the wrong version of the Bible.
It was all very friendly.
I kept asking questions about their version of the Bible, and pointed to several passages in John and Ephesians that clearly articulate that Jesus claimed to be God, and that His followers (and enemies) in the 1st century seemed to understand that claim as well.
Renee kept shaking her head, and saying, “That’s just what you’ve been taught.”
Then my baby girl started fussing, and Renee and her dark-eyed daughter walked off into the rain, promising to come back next Friday to show me where I was wrong about the Trinity and Jesus and the Bible.
As I walked inside (after wiping insect-debris off of my son’s hands), I felt a little unsettled.
What are the arguments for the existence of God-the-Three-in-One? Isn’t there a verse somewhere that says “in Christ dwells all the fullness of God in bodily form?” Lord, why is it so hard to communicate about You and about how important this stuff about Jesus really is?
And later, when I sat down to catch up on the news, and saw this story about a 14-year-old boy in Pakistan who was doused with oil and set on fire because he named the name of Jesus to his Muslim accusers…
…well, I stopped reading, overwhelmed.
Lord, the times are evil! Yet You are helping Your children remain steadfast even to the point of fiery death. O Father, give me a heart of passion, steadfast in Your truth so that I will live with courage even like this young martyr.
Because the truth is, Christians in the Muslim world expect to have to defend their belief in the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus, the inspiration of Holy Scripture, and the atoning death of Jesus. Islam attacks those points of Christianity relentlessly. And their neighbors don’t usually just knock politely on the door to ask “Would you like to try our religion?”
I am thankful that those Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my house, and I pray that next Friday we can have another discussion about Jesus Christ, where I can more clearly proclaim “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to the saints” (Colossians 1:26).
But I am also thankful for this little taste of confrontation, for it has put new urgency into my prayers for Christians under Islam. In their lives, as in mine, the truths of the Bible can be difficult to understand, theological study can be burdensome, temptations to compromise or remain silent abound, yet for them, the price for speaking up can be more costly than I can imagine.
So, even as I pray for physical relief and protection for the Church in Pakistan, Syria, Nigeria, and beyond, I pray most for the Church to be girded and armed with unshaken faith. For their belief in Christ, who is Himself the perfect and complete Word of God, to remain the fixed center of their identities, and for them to know that even though the whole world seems to be dried up and withered with evil, the Word within them will endure unto eternal life, for the “Word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
Thank you for also testifying about Jesus in your daily lives.
And thank you for praying with me.