I moved to Littleton, Colo., a few months ago and live about 2 miles from Columbine High School. Although that tragedy happened 16 years ago, I remember it every time I drive past. Some accounts say the shooters asked victims if they believed in God. Whether or not that is true, it is obvious after reading markers at a nearby memorial that many of the slain students had a strong faith in Jesus.
In February of this year, 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians were beheaded in Libya. In April, nearly 150 Christian students were singled out and killed at a university in Kenya. Nine people were massacred at a church in Charleston in June. On Oct. 1, students who claimed to be Christians at a college in Oregon were shot in the head, while others were shot in the leg.
In Iraq last year, Christians left the city of Mosul after being threatened with death if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam. ISIS marked their homes with the Arabic symbol “N” which looks like a “u” with a dot over it. This represents the word Nassarah, a term used to identify followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
Just a few days before the shootings in Oregon, my daughter announced an upcoming lockdown drill at her school where students would hide in classrooms with the doors locked and remain silent as an administrator checked each classroom, one by one. The drill took place a few days after the incident in Oregon and left me feeling unsettled. Is my daughter prepared to stand firm in faith at any cost? Am I?
Titus 1:16 tells about those who “claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” Is your faith obvious to others regardless of a cross around your neck, a Jesus tattoo on your arm, or a fish on your car? Do love, forgiveness, bearing good fruit, and hope represent your life? Are you committed to identifying with Christians around the world who are willing to die for their faith? Would you leave everything behind and stay strong in faith, or deny Jesus to save your life?
The world is changing rapidly, and the safety once felt in this nation can no longer be taken for granted. Yet living in fear is no way to live. Christians have a hope that life on earth is not all there is. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.”
And what is that reason for hope? I know where I am ultimately going no matter what may happen. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12-13).
Witnesses say the Egyptian men who died in Libya were murmuring, “Lord, Jesus Christ” moments before they were beheaded. What a powerful example of living out Romans 1:16. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” It is reported that a young man from Ghana who was with them died as well, after proclaiming, “Their God is my God.”
If you want to identify with persecuted Christians who stand firm in faith no matter what the price, consider ordering a wristband or T-shirt at www.i-am-n.com. It might open the door to sharing hope with someone else who desperately needs it, too.
• Lisa Jisa and her family lived in Ahwatukee between 2000-2015 and now reside in Colorado. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.