In this compelling story told by an international Christian aid organization, a 14 year-old girl named Susan was so enamored with Jesus Christ that she refused to renounce him, even when locked away in a room and left to starve nearly to death.
Open Doors, which recently published a new report on the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christian, brought this story to life with a video about a young Ugandan teen named Susan whose school hosted a visiting speaker who told the story of Jesus Christ. As she heard the story about the God who came to earth to save man from their sins, her heart burst into flames and she immediately gave herself to Jesus.
Her Muslim father was none too pleased and tried everything to get her to stop following Jesus and going to church. He even threatened to kill both her and her brother if she didn’t stop worshiping Christ. But Susan was too convinced of the Lordship of Jesus and refused to quit.
Then one day her father took her into a room in the house and put a mat on the floor. He told her to sit on it and not move from the mat until she was willing to deny Jesus Christ.
He didn’t return to that room for three months.
During that time, her brother would sneak her water and an occasional fried banana. After three months, neighbors began to wonder where she was and Susan’s brother finally told them what was going on. The neighbors called police who came to the house and found Susan sitting on the mat. She was alive, but just barely. Weighing only 44 pounds, the bones in her legs had begun to grow into the position in which she was sitting. She was rushed to the hospital where she began extensive treatment for malnutrition and rehabilitation for her legs.
It’s difficult for Christians in the West to even imagine this kind of persecution. Susan’s story is reminiscent of the early church when people who were seemingly too young to make such decisions about their faith routinely defied authorities and died for their beliefs.
But these stories are happening every day in various countries around the world where life as a Christian is often one of violence and uncertainty.
As the Daily Mail reports, newly data released by Open Doors has found that one in 12 Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution. This is especially true in countries where radical Islamic or Communist regimes are in power.
At the present time, North Korea, Afghanistan and Somalia are ranked as the three most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christian. Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran round off the top ten.
During the time the report was being put together, researchers recorded 3,066 instances of Christians being killed; 1,252 abductions; 1,020 cases of rape or sexual harassment; and 793 church attacks.
It's hard to wrap our heads around such harrowing statistics, but our faith insists that we do so.
“Persecution is not a contradiction to the gospel, but is part of it: if they persecuted our Master, how can we hope that we will be spared the struggle?” Pope Francis said during a catechesis on Christian hope in St. Peter’s Square on June 28, 2017.
Yesterday was Religious Freedom Day in America. Although it received scant recognition by the press, it is of upmost importance to those of us who suffer a different kind of persecution in the West.
As the proclamation states, “Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification. These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy.”
An end to religious persecution must be a part of our daily prayer because, as Scripture teaches us, we’re all part of the Body of Christ.
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it,” (1Cor 12:26).
Let none of us rest until the “Susans” of this world are finally free to worship God without fear.
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