Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “Should Christians Pray for Persecution to Stop?” (Part One of Six)

“The church must stop doing what it’s doing. The church continues to pray for persecution to stop, but the only way God can answer that prayer is to stop people from coming to Christ.”

Nik Ripken, a veteran missionary and author of The Insanity of God among other resources, said these words to me after participating in the annual Heart for Muslims Conference in New York City. Over the last few decades, Ripken has been on a spiritual journey to learn from persecuted Christians around the world. He sat across from me in jeans, boots, and a finely pressed shirt only a shade whiter than his beard. His gaze communicated he had seen, heard, and endured much about the worth of Christ in, and through, suffering.

Global Gates Nik Ripken

“Listen carefully,” Ripken said. “The number one cause of persecution on the planet is people coming to Jesus. As more people come to Christ, Satan’s opposition to the people of God intensifies and persecution follows.”

On the night Jesus was betrayed, he cried out in agony, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” He followed that prayer by saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39, NIV).

“The church is praying the first half of Jesus’s prayer,” Ripken said, “but not the second half.”

For many believers outside the west, persecution is normal, especially where religious societies and political regimes oppose conversions to Christianity.

Ripken wants believers in the western world to see, however, that freedom is not dependent on where we live or what governments allow.

“I’m as free to share Christ in Saudi Arabia as I am in South Carolina,” Ripken said. “I’m as free to share Christ in Kenya as I am in Kentucky. It’s not about location. It’s about obedience. Persecutors cannot stop people from sharing Christ. They can punish, but they can’t stop.”

Satan wants to shut believers up as quietly as possible, because he has two deep desires – to prevent the lost from hearing about Jesus and to prevent believers from sharing their faith.

“Satan doesn’t want to put you in jail,” Ripken added. “He doesn’t want to beat you. He doesn’t want to take your job. He doesn’t want to take your kids. Satan doesn’t want to kill you, because he knows God uses the blood of the martyrs. No! Satan wants to silence you!”

– Ben Doster, Global Gates Director of Communications,

*Stay tuned for the next segment in our multipart series featuring takeaways from a Global Gates’ interview with author and missionary Nik Ripken.