It was just a few weeks ago that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, set off two bombs during the world-famous Boston Marathon. A number of people lost their lives due to the heinous attack that these two brothers perpetrated upon innocent people. Tamerlan was shot and killed after a car chase with police. Moreover, his younger brother, Dzhokhar, ran over his brother’s body after being riddled with bullets from the police. Dzhokhar was injured in the shootout as well but managed to survive the shootout while hiding in a boat in the backyard of a Bostonian. Inside the boat, after being arrested and treated for his wounds, it was found that Dzhokhar had written a note admitting that he was one of the Boston Marathon Bombers. What was his reason? He and his brother did what they did because of America’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq stating, “When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims.”
As I think about these words that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote, I cannot help but think about those who attack Christians. It happens all the time all over the world. Read a couple of stories from Voice of the Martyrs (VOM; http://www.persecution.com):
VOM workers say Christians in northern Nigeria are facing unprecedented trials and fierce persecution. It was therefore a special privilege for VOM workers to distribute the gift of 37 bicycles, 15 motorcycles and 50 megaphones to pastors and Christians workers in the north recently. These simple tools will help them evangelize and preach the gospel in northern Nigeria.
At a distribution in Gombe state, one of the hardest hit areas in the north, at least 2,500 Christians gathered for a worship service. Widows, orphans, pastors and entire families from all over Gombe came together to hear a pastor preach about loving their neighbors. The pastor reminded worshipers that they must not hate their attackers and that martyrs like Stephen forgave his attackers.
“At this point, I began to realize the weight of love,” a VOM worker at the distribution said. “This made everyone focus on the Lord’s intent and design for us, which surpasses all understanding.”
Christians are targeted and “butchered like animals” nearly every day in northern Nigerian cities, with little alarm sounded by the international community, according to the VOM worker. Christians are targeted in their homes, at their businesses, on farms, while traveling on highways and even in their churches.
“These Christians are imprisoned — though there may not be physical walls barricading them — but they are confined to one fate which is death by bombing, bullet, fire, cutlasses, machetes and economic hardship,” the VOM worker said. “Christians are not allowed to go to markets or farms, all for the sake of their faith in Christ Jesus.
“These Christians live as if every day were their last. Someone told me in one of the cities, ‘We are just but walking corpses on the street waiting for our burial days.’ And although seen as second class citizens, these Christians [in northern Nigeria] remain strong in their faith and only wish to advance the gospel.”
The gift of bicycles, motorcycles and megaphones will help these faithful believers in northern Nigeria continue to advance the gospel in a hostile land.
Here’s another story:
Farshid Fathi, an Iranian Christian pastor, is beginning the third year of a six-year prison sentence on a conviction of “being chief-director of foreign organizations in Iran and gathering funds for these organizations.” Farshid is one of several believers arrested over the past few years in the Iranian government’s attempts to suppress Christianity. The details of his arrest were only recently released.
At about 6 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2010, security officials wearing plain clothes surrounded the home of Farshid’s father. When Farshid’s father opened the door to go to work, they forced their way into the home. They woke everyone in the house, including Farshid and his family who had stayed there Christmas night.
The authorities began a thorough search of the house. They questioned everyone present and, after completing the search, allowed Farshid to take his daughter to school.
“At the same time, another group of government agents attacked Farshid Fathi’s own house to arrest him, not knowing they were not home,” a source told Mohabat News. “They broke into the house illegally, destroying the entrance door, and searched everywhere confiscating whatever they thought could be used as evidence against Mr. Fathi, including his photos, flash drives, camera memory cards, the hard drive of his PC, laptop, documents, and even some money and his gas card.”
After authorities from the two raids communicated, they realized they had accidentally allowed Farshid to leave his father’s house. Livid over the mistake and sure Farshid had fled, the agents threatened the family with “harsh consequences” if he did not return.
But an hour later, Farshid did return. Authorities then beat him, insulted him and handcuffed him before transferring him to the Ministry of Intelligence building in Tehran. From there, he was taken to Evin prison, where he spent several months in solitary confinement.
A Christian prisoner who was Farshid’s cellmate for a few weeks asked Farshid why he returned home, knowing that the agents were waiting to arrest him. “I couldn’t leave my wife and children alone,” he replied.
Farshid’s faith remains strong even in prison. In December, he responded to the Newtown, Conn., tragedy by writing the following letter to parents of the victims:
To the fathers and mothers who lost their precious children in the Connecticut tragedy,
I really don’t know what word in the world could comfort you, what relief could be helpful for your broken heart, and which hand could clean the tears which fall from your cheeks. I just want to say: I am so sorry and you are in my prayers.
I am sure these high walls cannot stop my prayers for you. Before this tragedy happened, I was thinking about my suffering that I’m going through because of my Lord Jesus Christ, especially being far from my lovely kids. But when I imagine how hard your pain is I forget my sufferings. Because I know by God’s grace I will see my kids at the latest in 2017 when I come out from prison. But unfortunately you have to wait a bit longer. So I would like to express my deepest sorrow for your loss.
I believe we will have enough time in heaven with our lovely children forever. There is no gun there, there is no prison, and there is no pain.
In the hope of that glorious day.
Your Brother in Christ from prison in Iran,
17 December 2012
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has not taken these stories into account. Nor has he taken into account that when a Christian is attacked that it is not just “all Christians” who are attacked but it is the Lord Himself that is attacked. Read what Luke records in the Book of Acts:
Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him [Stephen] to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. . . . Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-9)
What the Tsarnaev brothers failed to recognize, as other homicide bombers fail to recognize, is that when a Christian is attacked then it is Jesus Christ who is attacked. Another thing that these two brothers fail to recognize is that Jesus Christ is the Victor over death, hell and the grave. Nothing they do against Him will ever stop others from loving Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul and mind. Nothing people like the Tsarnaevs do to Christians will lessen the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
For the remaining brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I pray that he will come to the realization that Saul did: Jesus Christ cannot nor will He be conquered. Rather, Jesus Christ has already won the victory for those who believe in His Person and Work. I pray that someone who has access to Dzhokhar will tell him the Good News that true salvation awaits him if he will only believe.