Let’s Commemorate September 11th by praying for Saudi national Christians.

Today at church I found myself thinking again and again of the former Muslim Christians who live in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia it is illegal for a Muslim to change their religion to something else. Those who publicly convert to Christianity could theoretically be executed by the authorities. However, according to reports I hear, it is much more likely that they will be executed by their family members first. These “honor killings” are done by the families of former Muslims to prove that there are no other apostates in their family.

            It is not unusual for Christians to be executed for their beliefs. Many of the early Christians living in the pagan Roman Empire also faced execution for becoming Christians. However, the Christians in ancient Rome had it easier than the Christians in Saudi Arabia today.  Christians in ancient Rome were usually tolerated for long periods of time, and the persecution was sporadic. Furthermore, it was relatively easy to hide the fact that you were a Christian without denying your faith. Occasionally Roman authorities would force suspected Christians to offer sacrifices to the idols as a test, but this kind of thing did not happen very often.

            In Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, it is much harder for someone to leave their native religion than it was for someone who was born as a pagan in ancient Rome. Every Muslim is expected to pray, expressing their belief in Muhammad as God’s prophet, five times a day. Thus I imagine that it is very easy for family members to notice if one of their own has stopped following the Islamic rituals. They would catch the culprit right away and confront them. Then there would be no escape for the poor victim. They would either have to go back to worshipping as a Muslim or face the consequences.

            What should these former Muslims do? Should they stop saying the Salat, which they believe to be untrue, or should they continue to pretend to be Muslims, even though they are not? I have no easy answers. A Christian idealist might be tempted to say: “stand up for your faith, take the consequences. You know you will go to heaven after they kill you.” However, I am in no position to give this kind of advice. I do not face the kind of persecution that they face. My faith has never been challenged by the sword.

            So what advice do I give to Saudi Arabian Christians? I don’t know. I don’t have any good answers. If you are a Saudi Arabian Christian reading this right now, I’m afraid I can’t tell you what to do. I’m not qualified. However, I want you to know this: I AM PRAYING FOR YOU! It is impossible for me to know the fears that you are going through as I sit in my cozy middle-class American apartment writing this article. Why did God choose for me to live in a country with religious freedom, and for you to live in Saudi Arabia? I don’t know, but I know God loves you, and that one way or another I will see you in heaven some day. My name is Daniel Schilling. Some day I will learn what yours is.

 

Sincerely,

   Your brother in Christ,

   Daniel

 

Inspirational Bible verses: “For these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

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