The Courage of Imprisoned Believers
Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh. Ebrahim Firouzi. Leah Sharibu.
What do these names have in common? They are all prisoners because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, these three names are just a small representation of thousands of believers who are in prison or being held against their will because they are Christians.
Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh is currently serving a 10-year sentence. Ebrahim Firouzi is currently serving out his sentence in internal exile after spending six years in prison. Leah Sharibu has been declared a slave for life by Boko Haram after being denied release because she refused to deny her faith in Jesus Christ.
These believers courageously follow Jesus even though it has cost them their freedom.
Now – persecution and imprisonment is not a new phenomenon to the Church. We read about much persecution in the pages of the New Testament. Paul even wrote several letters to the churches while in prison for following Jesus. One of these letters was to the church at Philippi.
Here’s what he writes about his imprisonment in the first chapter of Philippians:
12. Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
Did you catch what Paul is saying in those verses? His imprisonment actually helped the church to be more courageous. Paul’s imprisonment gave the believers the confidence to live out their God given mission: the great commission.
If Paul’s courage in the face of imprisonment, could spur the early church to proclaiming the gospel, then I think the courage of believers like Naser, Ebrahim and Leah should spur us on to proclaim the gospel with boldness.
When we choose to share the gospel in our freedom, we honour those who share it in the face of persecution. But the opposite is true – if we choose to keep the gospel to ourselves, we dishonour those who shared it even in the face of extreme persecution.
Think about this: those who are persecuting Naser, Ebrahim and Leah are doing it because they don’t want the gospel to be proclaimed, they don’t want more people to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. If we choose to keep our faith to ourselves and withhold the gospel from the lost people around us, are we any different than their persecutors?
And so I encourage you today, in this very moment, to think about one person who you can share your faith with. Begin to pray for that person, look for the opportunities God gives you to share and then take them!
Let the courage of Naser, Ebrahim and Leah embolden you to share your faith with those around you!
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