As we learned from Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “Should Christians Pray for Persecution to Stop?” (Part One of Six), Christians in the western world are often praying for persecution around the globe to end without asking for God’s will to be done. Ripken, an author and missionary, also warned that Satan wants to shut people up as quietly as possible, because he has two deep desires – deny the lost access to Jesus and prevent Christians from doing evangelism.
American society labels religion as a private matter. Believers in the United States are often discouraged from sharing the gospel due to fear of rejection.
Through his travels, workshops, and trainings around the world, Ripken has met believers from contexts where persecution is the norm, including some who were rescued and brought from their home countries to America. He said those are people who have lost jobs and were beaten for the cause of Christ, but after 10 years, many of those who fit these criteria no longer practice their faith here in the U.S.
Ripken said westerners would be offended if we taught in seminaries this is the hardest place for believers to share their faith, but Christians who faced persecution in China and India will not only agree with him but will tearfully exhort their American brothers and sisters to listen to him.
If Satan’s covert strategy fails, then he counters with overt attacks. As previously alluded to, covert persecution such as American society is more effective at snuffing out Christian witness than the torture in Islam. Ripken attributes that to American culture, which offers many good things with the challenge being to choose what’s great over what’s good. He said the choice is easy for people in a Muslim culture, because the difference between good and evil is clear.
“There’s so much good stuff to choose. How do you focus on Jesus?” Ripken said. “The church is chasing after so much other stuff. How do you choose the Pearl of Great Price? How do you choose that one Pearl of Great Price if you’ve got a bucket of pearls?”
Those in America who earn a salary, have access to education, healthcare, clean water, food, and shelter are the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-30). Ripken said the American church doesn’t understand on the global scale it’s the rich young ruler.
“The more the American church is defined by property, buildings, denominations, and possessions the easier it is for Satan to control us,” Ripken said. “The rich young ruler said, ‘I want to follow you.’ [Jesus said,] ‘Well, what have you done?’ He told Jesus all the things he’s done, and Jesus said, ‘There’s one thing you’ve neglected. You go sell all that you have and give it to the poor and come follow me.’”
If we’re the rich young ruler, then Christ’s command to pick up our cross and follow Him also applies to us.
“We’re not doing it,” Ripken said.
“How do you serve Jesus in this culture? That’s the question. If wealth becomes your chief persecutor how do you put your finger on that? What if that is the cancer?”
– Ben Doster, Global Gates Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
*In case you missed it, you can find the first segment of our multipart series covering important topics author and missionary Nik Ripken spoke on during an interview with Global Gates by clicking here Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “Should Christians Pray for Persecution to Stop?” (Part One of Six). Stay tuned for our next segment.