Friday, January 26, 2007

The Third Day

A number of aid organizations often explain the severity of their cause, such as poverty or disease, by translating statistics into time. Make Poverty History, for example, reports that every fifteen seconds a child dies from water-related diseases. Similarily, UNICEF recently reported that every five minutes a woman in India dies in childbirth. Both statements highlight the direness of the situation at hand by demonstrating the alarming rate at which poverty is robbing people of their lives.

So why are statistics phrased in this way? What is the effect of putting the sufferings of others on a sort of universal clock? Well, I believe that it reminds those of us who are free from these specific problems that they are not occurring in some distant, faraway place. These people are suffering in our world, in our time. Their seconds are our seconds, their minutes are our minutes and their days are our days

This week, All India Christian Council reported that every third day of 2006 there was an act of violence against Christians in India. There were 128 cases of reported violence against India's Christian minority---2.3 percent of the 1.20 billion total population. Furthermore, AICC noted that, since incidents of violence against Christians are still widely underreported by the mainstream media, the actual figure is likely much higher.

Since I heard this report, I have not been able to stop trying to apply this three-day perspective to my own life, in hopes that doing so might help me to better understand the reality of persecution in India. I have been asking myself such questions as "where I was three days ago?" and "where will I be in three days?" Such questions are my way of asking the big question---"what is it like to live in a country where Christians suffer so frequently and so severely for their faith?" Lord, help me to understand, I have been praying. Help me to know the price that these believers are paying. Help me to remember that their time is my time, their faith is my faith and their Lord is my Lord.

While I was thinking and praying, the Lord helped me to see this statistic in a new light. He reminded me that they are proof of His grace at work in India. Every third day in 2006, the sacrifice of Christ Jesus was made manifest by His children; every third day, believers gave their bodies over to the Lord's will; every third day, persecutors were made to witness God's truth undenied. Those who suffer for Him share in His sacrifice and so also share in His glory. The third day He arose again from the dead...

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