When a church burns…

19 Jul
Church burned by Muslims in Nigeria

Church burned by Muslims in Nigeria

Christians are persecuted in many different ways.  They are laughed at for believing in “ridiculous” ideas.  And they are murdered for denying Islam or communism or fascism or whatever.  Sometimes, their churches are burned to the ground.  Persecutors do this because they know that the church building is

Indian church burned by Hindu extremists

more than a building to Christian fellowships.  It is easy for Western Christians to fail to grasp the trauma faced by Christians elsewhere when their church building is burned.  After all, we only go there once a week for an hour and we have insurance and we can all chip in for a new one and it’s

Church burning in Egypt

just brick and mortar, right?  But Christian church buildings in most other parts of the world mean so much more.  First, they were hard to come by.  Christians often get their building from their own physical labor, sweat, and personal financial sacrifice.  Second, these buildings seldom are insured from fire (or arson) damage, if they are insured at all.  Third, the church functions as a Indonesian church burned by Muslim mob

Cairo, Egypt church burning

safe-haven for Christian minorities.  It’s a place where they assemble to meet and hear from God in peace, enjoying rare mutual encouragement.  They spend hours there, often multiple times a week.  They meet for bible study and prayer, for worship, but also for recreation, fellowship, political organizing, economic development, charity work, and so much more.  It is the center of religious life, but also civic life as well.  Church buildings are a physical symbol of Christian strength and security, of God’s real presence among his people, and so on.  It’s a place where Christians can literally flee to the arms of Jesus for spiritual rejuvenation.  There is a reason why so much is made in the Old Testament about the building, rebuilding, desecration, and celebration of the temple of God.  It’s just brick and mortar, but when you are a religious minority, it’s so much more.  Pray for those who have their churches burnt down to find their firm rest and security in the heavenly places.  But also pray that these buildings, which house a taste of heaven, would remain beacons of hope in lands where following Christ may be even suicidal.

 

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