But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you … This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Luke 21:12-13 (excerpts)
This devotion is not about Paris Hilton. You may be surprised by that since the news media seem to be filled with nothing but news about Paris Hilton, her driving, partying, court appearances, prison sentence, etc.... This devotion is not about her.
Instead, this devotion is about a Chaldean Catholic priest named Ragheed Kani. Because Ragheed doesn’t come from a rich family, and his life was lived in the service of the Savior and without scandal, his story hasn’t been widely told. Indeed, before this moment, you may never have heard of Ragheed. I hadn’t until a brother pastor sent me his story. It’s an account I’d like to share with you.
Ragheed was pastor at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul, Iraq. On June 3rd, he had just finished leading Sunday morning mass when a group of gunmen opened fire on him as he stood in front of his church. Ragheed and three of his church leaders were killed. Hours after the murder, their bodies were still lying in the street because people were afraid to recover them.
In a world where the short-term jail sentence of a hotel heiress is front-page news, I thought it right to give Ragheed a last opportunity to witness to you. Jesus’ words, “they will lay their hands on you and persecute you” were very real for this servant of the Savior. Although his life had been threatened and his church bombed, Ragheed felt it was important for him to keep sharing the story of salvation with the lost. If I were to say this decision cost him his life, he would probably correct me. Most martyrs would say witnessing to the Savior is not a decision. They would all agree they have no choice but to share the Savior with the lost.
Indeed, the narrative of the Savior who gave His life so that all who believe on Him might have life, is the one story that must be told in every land, in every generation and no matter the cost. It makes no difference if you live in a country of comparative religious freedom, or in a land where following the Savior can cost you your life. The trust given to Christ’s people remains the same. We must share the glory of what God has done for us in His Son’s life, death and resurrection. This is our opportunity to witness.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for the great cloud of witnesses and martyrs who have gone before me, and who live next to me, I give thanks. May their example encourage me to be bold in my witness to what You have done. May I make the most of every opportunity to witness to all that You give. In Your Name, Amen.