Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kidnapping Anniversary

Just a little over one year ago, on April 14, 2014, the notorious terrorist group Boko Haram took some 270 young girls from a school in a village in northeastern Nigeria. It remains a heartbreak that is beyond words to the entire community and especially to the families involved. The group has killed thousands of people in their six-year bid to create an Islamist stronghold in northeastern Nigeria. Both men and women, boys and girls, Christians and Muslims, have been killed, abducted and brutalized, and their reign of terror has literally affected millions in that region of the world.

The fate of the kidnapped girls from last year remains a mystery. Some experts believe that many of them will never be rescued. It is assumed that a large number have perhaps been married off to Boko Haram combatants. Then there is the real possibility that some may have been subjected to human trafficking and still others may have been deployed as potential suicide bombers or placed into other roles in the group's war machine.

Then just days ago, ISIS committed yet another heinous act of violence by executing a group of Christians in Ethiopia. It is all simply heartbreaking.

Much of the current terrorism around the world today is being focused on Christians. It certainly seems like a sign of the times and evidence that Satan is stepping up his efforts, especially against the church, as he knows his time to inflict suffering on humanity is short.

When considering what is taking place around the world, believers in Christ can and should do certain things in response. No, they cannot themselves stop radical groups from their vile and evil actions. But they can pray diligently for those who are the victims of such horrific crimes. Pray for grace, peace and the boldness to be a testimony for Christ even under the most dire of circumstances.

Then, too, there is something else crucial for every Christian to consider in these difficult last days. This is seen in 2 Peter 3:10-15 where the attitude and lifestyle of a believer is the subject in light of the Lord’s return.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”

In this passage, two great truths are revealed. First, God’s desire for his people is primarily that they be holy and blameless. They are to be  morally and spiritually pure in an ever-darkening world. Then, secondly, they need to realize exactly why the Lord has not yet returned to end all persecution and evil. Verse 15 states, "And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." The reason for the Lord's delay is for those outside of His family. It is about His grace and patience with sinners. And that also means that those who are saved still have work to do in sharing the good news of His salvation with all who are not!

The antics of Boko Haram, ISIS and others like them reveal the reality of evil in the world, the soon return of Christ to the world, and the need of salvation around the world. Pray for those now being harassed and harmed for their faith. And pray especially for those who are still in need of that same faith that turns condemned sinners into forgiven saints!

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

Bill Breckenridge