"We have clearly seen where persecution is prominent, the church is stronger; and where we have freedom - in the cities and other places - there are fewer Christians, and they are less fervent."From "Colombia - Reaching Rebels for Christ" on Pg 4 of The Voice of the Martyrs, April 2006
The sad thing is, this seems to be fairly common. Those of us who are blessed with the freedom to worship, how often and how easily do we grow complacent in our faith while our brethren around the world are being put to death for theirs? How many of us have our Bibles on our shelves rather than in our hands? Millions around the world don't have access to the written Word without fear of persecution. In these places it is cherished. Is it so cherished here?
I fear not in many cases. A poll done recently stated there are more "born again" Christians than ever before in America, and yet we see the country's morals declining as more and more people go out to fulfill the lusts of the flesh in a heightened fever. Meanwhile men and women, like Abdur Rahman, face family rejection, job loss, trials, and possible death for their faith. And yet, in many (if not most) of those cases their faith thrives - even when their lives are in danger because they know they have a chance to glorify God and that a great reward is waiting for them in Heaven.
How I long for the faith of men and women like that. How I long to have faith to be able to be bound and taken before the courts and proudly stand in faithful confidence that Christ has gone before me and I have been given the opportunity to witness (unto death if necessary) for Him.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Mark 13:13)
Each of us, whether we be in poverty or not; whether we live in France, Illinois, or Colombia - each of us have the opportunity, and indeed the responsibility to feverently seek God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Each of us are given to temptations, Satan will do anything to have us reject Christ or falter in our walk. It is only by God's grace, by a dependence and complete surrender to Christ, that any of us are able to stand and proclaim the Cross in the face of our trials (or even in our day to day mundane lives).
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:27-29, emphasis mine)