November 10th, 2013 is fast approaching as is the day following, November 11th. Many of us are aware of what November 11th brings. It is a time for us to mourn the losses of those who served our country fighting for what they believed would result in our rights and freedoms. It’s also a day for peacemakers to move forward in solidarity – remembering the past and envisioning a new Heaven and a new earth where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and where there will be no more bloodshed, wars, or factions. It’s a clarion call to bring about God’s reign on our earth TODAY.
Although I do not want to undermine my respect for veterans, I also want to draw you to another often overlooked date. November the 10th is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Persecution is a concept almost as foreign to North Americans as life on Mars is, and for that, we can be extremely grateful. All of us have faced really tough situations in our lives, and several of us have faced difficulty because of our faith. I know that there have been many times in my life when staying true to firmly held convictions has caused friction or even alienation. I have even occasionally be silenced, and once, when I was a young, firey evangelist it even caused unsettling feelings at work among co-workers. Even so, compared to the persecution that many Christians face around the world, what I experienced was little more than an upset stomach after eating too much cake. Lest you misunderstand me, I’m not saying that being put-down and left out isn’t tough. In fact, it downright stinks! But the truth is, the majority of us who grew up in Canada don’t know the first thing about standing up under brutal interrogations, having family ties severed, facing long imprisonments, losing employment, or ultimately losing our lives all for the sake of a truth we hold dear.
As I think about my last 3.5 years living in Toronto, I have rubbed shoulders and struck up friendships with many people who actually did face persecution and have taken up residence in Canada because they were left with little choice. From these brothers and sisters, I have learned a true dedication for the faith and hunger for the Word of God.
This year, can I make a challenge to you? Yes, continue to observe the customary moment of silence on Remembrance Day. Don’t ignore this for it is an important practice. But, on November 10th, light a candle and have a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in a different type of battle. Hold in your hearts those who fought the fight to witness to the reign of Christ’s justice and peace and who, once caught, emulated Christ’s example to be silent like a sheep before its shearers without struggling or retaliation. We are redeemed through the blood of Christ, and just like Tertullian said, “”The blood of the marytrs is the seed of the church. The more we are mown down the more we grow up.” May this also be our encouragement to keep pressing on despite the darts that Satan might hurl at us.