“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Would you die for your faith in Jesus? Seriously, would you?
Meriam Ibrahim would.
The 27-year-old Sudanese woman was thrown in prison, along with her 2-year-old son, and sentenced to hang for the “crime” of being a Christian.
You can watch the video if you like for details on the story.
Incarcerated while 8-months pregnant, she gave birth in a prison clinic to a girl, Maya, on May 27. She was reportedly shackled while giving birth.
She refuses to renounce her faith in Christ, vexing the Muslim government of Sudan. Even her brother says she should be executed if she does not renounce her Christianity.
Ibrahim is charged with “adultery” and is to be given 100 lashes because she married a Christian man from South Sudan (a marriage considered void under Sharia law).
She also faces the death penalty, charged with apostasy (abandonment of the Muslim religion). In Muslim theology, apostasy is equal to treason.
“I am a Christian. I did not convert from Islam,” Ibrahim told the court in Khartoum, explaining she was raised a Christian by her mother.
Her husband, Daniel Wani, is an American citizen and biochemist who suffers from muscular dystrophy. He was barred from attending her courtroom proceedings.
(U.S. officials were in attendance at her court hearing and say they are “monitoring her situation.” Translation: Don’t call us, we’ll call you).
There are conflicting reports on her fate, with some news agencies saying she’ll be released “in a few days time.”
Meriam is Prepared to Meet Her Maker, Are You?
If need be, Meriam is prepared to be a martyr for Christ.
The word martyr comes from the Greek, meaning “witness.”
She’s not strapping on a bomber’s vest to be a martyr for the cause.
If she is martyred, it’s only because she won’t renounce God’s love.
Of course, the situation seems absurd to a civilized world, but then, the Islamic world’s Sharia law has not been overly kind to women. (Read “Women’s Rights Under Sharia”).
In Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country, women are forbidden from driving.
Under Sharia, wives can be beaten for disobedience, a man can have four wives but a woman only one husband, and honor killings are part of the culture.
There’s no equality for women.
Rape can only be proven if a rapist confesses or if the woman has four male witnesses.
The Top 50 Countries Most Hostile to Christians
In case you haven’t been keeping up with current events, it’s open season on Christians around the world.
Open Door World Watch lists the top 50 countries where it’s most dangerous to be a Christian. (See the list and read about persecution in each country.)
North Korea tops the list as the country with the most extreme persecution against Christians. It’s god-like ruler, Kim Jong-Un, is the state’s only religion.
Somalia is No. 2 and Syria is No. 3.
Just think of all of the persecution against Christians in our world today:
- Churches are being burned and historical Christian enclaves are being targeted in Egypt
- Christians are forced to hide in the Syrian mountains from opposition forces
- Christian girls are being kidnapped and forced to convert in Africa
- Islamic extremism is spreading in Malaysia
- Preachers are being jailed worldwide
- Approximately 30 pastors a year are murdered in Colombia
In an effort to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamist state, the terror group Boko Haram has begun a holy war against Christians, kidnapping 276 Christian schoolgirls and forcing them to convert to Islam.
Their fate remains uncertain.
Iranian-born pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced to eight years in prison, accused of trying to undermine the Iranian government by establishing home churches.
Converting to Christianity from Islam. (Watch Naghmeh Abedini at Calvary Chapel South Bay testify of her husband’s imprisonment.)
Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus, not a religion.
Religion is defined as the belief in and worship of a supernatural controlling power, especially a personal God; a particular system of faith and worship, a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
Islam appears to be more of the latter than the former if only based on news reports from around the world that underscore the message “convert or die.”
Is it just the work of extremists? If so, there sure are a lot of them.
Thankfully, Ibrahim’s injustice has not gone unnoticed, bringing worldwide condemnation, including protests from human rights groups led by Amnesty International.
An online petition asking Sudan to spare Meriam’s life has received hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Put Yourself in Meriam’s Place
Meriam’s bold decision makes her shine like a beacon of light for Jesus in a dark world (See Matthew 5:14). And the world is taking notice.
God tells us we are not of this world, but we are part of it (See John 15:19).
We like leading comfortable lives and being in our comfort zone.
But, what if we were in her shoes, sitting in some dark cell, having been sentenced to death for not denouncing our Christianity … would we do it? Would we “convert or die”?
Are we willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for our God?
A soldier who goes into battle doesn’t plan in advance to jump on a grenade to save his comrades.
It’s an immediate act of will and spirit, a decision that happens in the blink of an eye.
As a Christian facing potential punishment for your faith, you have time to think about it and formulate how you will react.
Still, who knows how each one of us would handle it.
Frail humans that most of us are, we abhor pain and any discomfort associated with being thrown in jail.
It leads to great introspection. How strong is my faith?
Could I endure what Meriam is enduring for Jesus?
Would I buckle at the first hint of discomfort or pain or threat?
Most of us do not have the fortitude of a Chuck Norris or Jack Bauer or James Bond when it comes to physical challenges.
If I were in prison and someone walked in with a bag of surgical tools, I might be yelling Allahu Akbar and as-Salamu Alaykum before ever seeing the flash of a scalpel.
If my jailers said they would iron me like a starched shirt, I might deny I ever danced the Hora or sang Hava Nagila with any enthusiasm.
As a Jewish Christian, they’d have twice as much fun with me.
But what does that say about my faith in Jesus?
What does that say about my relationship with my God?
What does that say about my trust in Him after He has told me to trust Him in all things?
It would be so easy to renounce one’s faith in such a situation, but then Jesus did say, “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
Either we fully trust in God or we do not trust Him at all. There is no middle ground.
Will you stand firm in the faith when the time comes?
No matter how unpleasant a situation, can we say, “Lord, not my will but Your will be done”?
Will we be able to say, “Lord, I trust in you completely, my life is in your hands. Help me to love my captors as You love me, no matter what”?
Will we be able to stand firm and face the world, praying, “Lord, no matter what fate befalls me, I will not yield, because greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world”?
Jesus paid a debt that we can never repay, sacrificing Himself to free us from our bondage to sin and giving us eternal life.
How much is your freedom worth? Will you stand firm in your faith when the time comes?
Look around you. The time is now.
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior —
from violent people you save me. (2 Samuel 22:2-3)