GREAT COMMISSION WEEK - DEVOTIONAL #1
“ATI Class”: Augustine Theological Institute (ATI): Theological education program for leaders of underground churches
John 17:21—“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Persecution was not the reason Christianity disappeared from most countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The real reasons were the weakness of the church, and believers losing their zeal for evangelism and proclaiming the Gospel to their communities.
Today we see the church in these regions as a minority, making up no more than 8% of the entire population of the 22 countries. However, it is still alive, active and rejoicing in the Lord’s presence in her midst. The church delights in the work that the Holy Spirit does through it in order to reach millions of souls longing to know the one true God and to experience inner peace and assurance of eternal life.
And here comes the question: How did the church triumph in her battle against persecution and continued to be alive and fruitful?
The secret to the church’s victory is that she never forgot the Lord Jesus’ prayer for His church in John 17:21 “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The church in MENA is still growing and becoming stronger and more fruitful, because:
It sees persecution not as mere suffering, but rather as a normal part of the Christian life and as means to help it fix its eyes on the Lord that it may receive strength.
It believes in the prayer of the Lord Jesus that if it keeps its unity, the Lord will reveal Himself through it to non-believers.
It has discovered that the best and strongest method of evangelism in our countries is to be light in dark societies and salt in societies suffering from sin and corruption (Matthew 5:13-16).
This is what the church in MENA has been doing for many years and this is why persecution has not defeated her. She has been demonstrating Christ’s love to others in practical ways, which brought millions to know the Lord.
As believers in MENA, we see that even though Christianity has started in the Middle East and then its light went out for a long time, the Lord has kept for Himself a church that still loves Him, clings to Him, and believes that the light will come back to us strongly so that the people walking in darkness may know that Jesus is the only true God and the Savior of the world.
Partners International, General Director of AWEMA