It's been 2 weeks to the date since Christmas Day, but for some it's been 2 weeks since they left the earth permanently. On Christmas, eleven Christians are no longer alive, martyred for their faith in Nigeria. The headlines swallowed Google and plenty of other search engines two days later. BBC News. The Vatican News. QZ.com. Even Christianity Today and the New York Times wrote an article about it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility and the other half of the world closes its eyes again and goes back to sleep.
With a new video plastered over the internet by ISIS militants, the eleven Nigerian martyred deaths are eleven on top of hundreds of deaths already claimed at the hands of ISIS. BBC news reported that the video showed one Nigerian being executed by gun, and the ten others pushed to the ground and beheaded. No names of the victims were given, but it was stated that all were male. Add this massacre to the four aid workers that were killed after being abducted in north eastern Nigeria earlier in December and two midwives that were killed in 2018.
There are several dozens still being held hostage, not knowing if they'll be the next to be martyred. Analysts have stated that the videos were posted to coincide with Christian holidays, making it their regime of revenge for the killings of the Islamic leaders Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir.
"We killed them as revenge for the killings of our leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir." This was quoted by one of ISIS spokesman. See the rest of article at BBC news here https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-50924266
The worst part is, it doesn't end in Nigeria. There is similar suffering in the Middle East, the Philippines, and Bolivia.
Philippians 1:21 Meaning: To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Life it seems keeps spinning. People still maul each other Black Friday shopping and people flock in drones to watch beauticians on Youtube while the rest of the world is in utter chaos.
"If I rise, let me rise on You. Not on all my successes My esteems or my pursuits If I lose, let me lose my life Cause If I belong to Jesus The flesh is crucified" "To Live is Christ," written, produced, and performed by Sidewalk Prophets
This song comes to mind as I'm reading these articles. Weight of knowing that life is taken for granted is heavy.
"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake." (Philippians 1:21-24)
Philippians 1:21 Meaning Continued: Humble Strength
Paul's letter was written to the Philippians while he was imprisoned in Rome. It's amazing to read how hardship will strengthen the spirit even though it breaks the body. I often ask God, "Why does it seem that no one is talking about this? They suffer in silence, yet the world closes its eyes."
This scripture comes to mind every time: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evils against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
It angers me to hear false teachers tell people that they can have their best lives now. I wonder if they would tell that to the families left in devastation in the wake of these murders, how it would fair? Would it hold up to gain the world to lose the soul, for temporary pleasure? To even have witnessed those martyred have been devastating. In the midst of these questions, there is still hope. For the presence of God brings conviction, and yet there is peace. See below for the conversion story of a former Jihadist. All video credits for these videos go to their respective makers.
Pick Up Your Mantle
Paul urges his brethren in Philippi to live in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel, to uphold the mantle that they received when they became Christians. With this post, I urge the readers who are Christians to stand fast in your walk and to not be ashamed of Christ even in the face of persecution or great trial. God sees the chaos. He sees His people who become martyred and the brokenness. He is close to the brokenhearted. Do not lose hope. Do not forget your calling.
See this post on We Heart It
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