(Jesus said) "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8
Most of us are not acquainted with the organization that has the ominous title of the "Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice."
Yes, there is such an official, state-sanctioned organization, which is composed of some several thousand members. You probably have not heard of it because the organization is located in Saudi Arabia where they enforce strict, religious laws. And if you're asking what kind of religious laws, I can tell you they enforce laws like the banning of red.
It's true. A few days before February 14th, representatives of the commission visit florists and other shops and order then to remove red roses, red wrapping paper, red gift boxes, and the like. Those stores which do not comply will be visited on February 13th and all things red will be confiscated. The reason? Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country that is hostile to Christianity, and that hostility extends to St. Valentine.
Amazing. The West has forgotten Valentine was a Christian saint while Islamic countries remember how that ancient Christian martyr reflected the love of the God that was shown in the Savior's life, suffering, death and resurrection.
Of course, the commission has other duties: they make sure Christians don't worship in any kind of public church service, and they enforce dress codes like the forbidding of cross wearing.
Now if you thought Christianity was non-existent in Saudi Arabia, you would be right ... if you lived 100 years ago. A century ago there were no followers of the Savior in Saudi Arabia. Today we number 4.4 percent of the population. And if you're wondering how this has happened, I can tell you.
The Holy Spirit doesn't respect national borders or religious censorship. As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit will take the salvation story to the ends of the earth, and so He has.
This is why those who keep track of statistics say there are 16 million people who have converted from Islam to Christianity. The reasons for the conversions are simple:
1. the lifestyle witness of Christians -- in life, death and martyrdom;
2. the spiritual truths of Scripture which speak of God's love;
3. dissatisfaction with Islam's doctrines and some of their leader's message of hatred.
Knowing these things, you may well understand why Lutheran Hour Ministries is committed to bringing the Savior's story to the Islamic world. Our microphone message of the air can go where missionaries and ministers are forbidden. We can bring Christ crucified and risen to the homes and hearts of those who are forbidden to worship in public.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we pray for those people who are living in countries where the government is trying to muzzle the Gospel message. May the Holy Spirit ignore those borders and touch hearts with the saving faith that comes only in knowing the Redeemer and His works. This I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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