(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)
By Greg Musselman
Recently, I spoke to a group of about 40 grade six students in their religion class at a school in Alberta. They had been studying issues related to social justice. I wasn’t sure how they would react to my presentation on Christians who are suffering for their faith in different parts of the world. I showed them photos and a video featuring the testimonies of several persecuted believers. I was impressed with the students’ desire to hear more about what I had to say. They paid close attention while watching one of my reports from Nigeria and hearing how Christians are being unjustly treated and even killed by militant Muslims.
After taking a few questions, the teacher told the students they should be grateful for the freedoms that we have as citizens here in Canada. His comments echoed what many pastors often say after I speak at churches across the country – that we are blessed to be living where we do and enjoying the freedom to practise our faith without fear of being arrested, beaten or hassled while following Jesus Christ. I, too, am grateful for that freedom. However, when such freedom is taken for granted, there can eventually be spiritual problems if we aren’t actively doing God’s Kingdom work. The Apostle Paul promised Timothy that everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, including us Canadian Christians. The point is, you don’t have to live in a country where being a Christian or sharing your faith is illegal in order to suffer persecution. All that’s required is living a Godly life… one that does what’s necessary to be a disciple of our Lord. That includes sharing your testimony and living a holy (not perfect) life. But the reality is that to live in a place like Canada, where outward persecution of Christians is uncommon, it’s easy to become sluggish in our faith.
Back in 2011, our VOM team visited some devoted Christians from northern Vietnam. We asked “Peter” why these people are so persecuted while believers in other parts of the world are not. His answer was straight to the point: “I think one of the reasons people are not persecuted is because the church hasn’t sent them out to evangelize and do something for God. The reason we are being persecuted is because we are active in sending people out to evangelize and get others saved.”
After deciding to become a Christian in Vietnam, “Tien” has faced several imprisonments for his Christian activity, but nothing has deterred this young man from evangelism. When asked why he continues to share his faith, Tien’s answer was very direct and clear: “Because the Bible says whoever follows God and carries their cross every day will receive life; but if you try to save your life, it will be taken away. So we follow Christ.”
We Canadians don’t have to feel guilty because we live in a country that allows freedom of religion, a place where extreme suffering for one’s faith in Christ is not common. It just means we need to be aware of the dangers of taking such freedom for granted and the affect doing so can have on our passion for God’s Kingdom work.
A close friend of mine who was involved in full-time ministry in East Africa said something to me and my wife Arlene that we will never forget. “If you can be a Christian in Canada, you can be a Christian anywhere.” In other words, he was saying that if you can remain committed to the Lord and be an effective Christian here in Canada – in this environment with all its distractions and materialism – you can be a Christian anywhere!
I pray that as you learn more about our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, their testimonies will cause you to be more intentional in living a Godly life and less fearful of suffering for it.

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