Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keeping the Faith

Two young women stand condemned before a court of law charged with 'apostasy' because of their faith in Christ. If found guilty the pair are facing the death penalty. Here's an account of their plight from Elam Ministries (http://www.elam.com/) 'In a dramatic session before the revolutionary court on Sunday August 9th in Tehran, Maryam Rustampoor (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (30) were told to recant their faith in Christ. Though great pressure was put on them, both women declared that they would not deny their faith. Maryam and Marzieh were originally arrested on March 5th , 2009 and have suffered greatly while in prison, suffering ill health, solitary confinement and interrogations for many hours while blindfolded.

On Saturday August 8, Maryam and Marzieh were summoned to appear in court on Sunday August 9 in order to hear a verdict on their case. The chief interrogator had recommended a verdict of ‘apostasy.’ However, when they arrived, no verdict was actually given. Instead, the court session focussed on the deputy prosecutor, Mr Haddad, questioning Maryam and Marzieh about their faith and telling them that they had to recant in both verbal and written form. This made it clear that in the eyes of the court, Maryam and Marzieh’s only crime is that they have converted to Christianity.' The report goes on to quote the direct appeal by Mr Hadad to the women in the courtroom, calling on them to recant their faith. They stood firm and replied, “We will not deny our faith.”

Please pray for them as they face the very real possibility of being executed or perhaps jailed for a very long time because of their faith. That's what I call 'keeping the faith'.

Mind you, there are other circumstances where we are charged with keeping the faith, that do not include a sharia courtroom. Some may face endless battles with serious ill health, or the constant terrors of the night caused by mental and also physical disease. Others feel the sting right now of bitter betrayal or family break-up, or just the pressure of going God's way rather than our own. When the years of agony roll on, as they have done in my own case for more than 13 years, will we deny our faith, or recant?

When Jesus asked his twelve disciples if they, like others, would jettison their faith and turn back from following him, Simon Peter replied 'Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We've already committed ourselves, confidant that you are the Holy One of God'. (John 6:68)

Have we? (made that commitment?) If so it will be tested. Some may have the faith for miracles and be delivered, but it takes a precious, ultra-refined, covenant keeping love to 'keep the faith' when the price and the disappointments are piled high.

Let's pray for each other that we will keep the faith. After all, if you and I were to stand in the dock charged with being a disciple of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict us? With Maryam and Marziah the answer is in the court record: 'Guilty as Charged!'

How about you?