Category Archives: Persecuted Church

In Their Sights

Pastor Campbell Markham

Last week I was watching a documentary where a fairly well-known British actor visited Lebanon.  As he walked down a city street dividing armed Sunni and Shia factions, he intimated to us (the viewers) that at that very moment he and his crew may very well have been in the sights of a sniper from one side or the other.  It must be terrifying to consider that you might very well catch a piece of lead from a sniper’s rifle.

Here in Australia, Christians are in the sights of the enemy.  We see more and more evidence of deliberate targeting of believers.  Last week, The Australian broke the story of two Christian preachers from Hobart, in the south of Tasmania.  Campbell Markham is the pastor of the Cornerstone Church, a congregation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Australia.  David Gee is a member of the same church and he periodically does street preaching in Hobart.  Markham and Gee have been named in a complaint to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.  Markham is alleged to have offended homosexuals with some things he wrote on his blog in 2011.  The complaint against Gee cites statements he made while preaching at a speaker’s corner in the Central Business District of Hobart.  These statements offended atheists and homosexuals, prompting the complaint.  It is not clear whether both complaints originate from the same individual, though it appears that way.

It’s important to note something here.  The Cornerstone Church is not the infamous Westboro Baptist Church with hatred as its creed.  Rev. Markham is not a foaming-at-the-mouth fundamentalist, and neither is David Gee.  These are simply men who believe what the Bible says about marriage and God’s design for the human race.  As a Christian blogger and pastor, it could have been me in the sights of this complainant.  In fact, for all I know, perhaps I am already in the sights of this activist.

That’s the first thing to take away from this.  No faithful Christian pastor is immune.  If you’re faithful, you will open your mouth and preach what the Bible proclaims without apology.  That makes you a target.  They’ll turn their sights on you eventually.  Even if you’re not a pastor, all it takes is a little question from a boss, co-worker, teacher, or fellow-student.  As soon as you mouth the words, “The Bible says,” the cross-hairs are on your cranium.

The second thing is: we must not let these snipers win.  A sniper makes people take cover.   Under threat of a sniper, no one wants to be out in the open.  Snipers make the fearful hide.  However, we cannot let fear dictate our ministries.  We need the proper perspective to gain courage.  We are at war, but not with human beings who disagree with us and want us silenced.  We’re at war with principalities and powers in rebellion against God.  This war was already decided at the cross.  These skirmishes are like the Allies sweeping through the Netherlands long after D-Day.  The Second World War was decided on June 6, 1944.  But it wasn’t until 1945 that victory was fully realized.  That’s our situation.  We’re on the winning side — the gospel will move forward.  We ought not to be afraid, nor should leaders in this battle run for cover.  We need to remind ourselves:  there may be a sniper’s sight on me, but my Commander has my back and victory is in his grasp.


Eric Liddell and the Transformative Power of Prayer

eric-liddell-400

I quite enjoyed David McCasland’s biography of Eric Liddell.  My generation remembers Liddell because of Chariots of Fire, the somewhat fictionalized account of his go at the 1924 Olympics.  Liddell won gold at the Olympics, despite being challenged to give up his belief in keeping the Lord’s Day holy.  Liddell was a man of Christian convictions.  Following his Olympic triumphs, he became a missionary to China.  The Second World War saw him interned in a Japanese camp.  He died there on February 21, 1945 because of an inoperable brain tumour.

McCasland’s biography includes some snippets of Liddell’s life in the prison camp.  In this excerpt, Liddell taught a powerful truth which many others have discovered:  prayer mysteriously changes the one who prays.

         …when Eric spoke in church or led a Bible study group with them, he rarely dealt with what might happen tomorrow.  Instead, he focused on what could happen today.  During one small group discussion, he read aloud the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:43:  “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.”  Then he asked if this was merely an ideal or something practical they could actually do.  Could they love the guards in camp and the Japanese people as a whole?  Most thought it was only a lofty goal.

“I thought so too,” Eric said, “but then I noticed the next words, ‘Pray for them that despitefully use you.”  When we start to pray,” he said, “we become God-centered.  When we hate them we’re self-centered.  We spend a lot of time praying for people we like but we don’t spend much time praying for people we don’t like and people we hate.  But Jesus told us to pray for our enemies.  I’ve begun to pray for the guards and it’s changed my whole attitude toward them.  Maybe you’d like to try it too.

Eric Liddell: Pure Gold, David McCasland, page 267.


445 Years Ago Today

On this date in 1567, the author of the Belgic Confession was martyred.  Guido de Brès was executed by the Spanish authorities for celebrating the Lord’s Supper contrary to their orders.  You can read more about his martyrdom here in an eyewitness account.  We can be thankful to God for the faithfulness witness and ministry of martyrs like de Brès!  We should continue to remember in prayer and deed those who continue to suffer for Christ.


Brian Godawa: Secret Believers

Brian Godawa was the screenwriter for the movie To End All Wars.  He recently wrote the script for this short clip as well.  Powerful.