Even at Gunpoint, Yes, I Am a Christian

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Poignant post considers the possibility of Christian persecution from the perspective of one who trusts in a God who gives enough grace.

“Mama?” my eleven-year-old asked. “What would you say if someone held a gun to your head and asked if you were a Christian?”

This is one of those times when I wish she could still fit on my lap. Because I’d love nothing more than to fold her into my arms and stroke her hair while we talk weighty and hard things.

Since she’s not far from being as tall as me and too mature for lap-sitting, I settled for reaching out to hold her hand and looking deep into her eyes.

“I would say yes.”

She looked doubtful, her gaze drifting down to our joined hands.

“Do you want to know how I know?” I prodded gently.

At her nod, I continued:

“Let me tell you a story.”

Enough grace

It was just another day, just another morning waiting for my son’s turn to receive his monthly allergy injection.

When my cell phone chimed to announce a call, I answered absentmindedly. “Hello?”

“Hey, babe. It’s me. The doctor just called.” My husband’s somber tone immediately set warning bells ringing and my stomach knotting with dread.

“And?” I asked quietly, with hushed tones to avoid my children’s curious ears.

“It’s cancer.”

I became hyper-aware of my breaths.

In and out. In and out. Dear Lord, help me!

“Are you okay?” I asked him.

In and out. In and out. Please, God, I can’t do this without You.

“Well, not really. I have cancer,” his voice now betrayed his tears. “Are you okay? You sound fine. Are you not upset?”

In and out. In and out. Sweet Jesus.

“I am, but I’m in a waiting room with the kids. I’m sorry, hon. I need to go. It’s almost Trevor’s turn.”

“Okay, hon. Love you. Call me later.”

“I will. I love you, too.”

Grace to say “Yes”

“Mom, I don’t understand. I didn’t ask you about Dad’s cancer. I asked you about someone threatening to kill you for being a Christian.”

I measured my next words carefully, knowing I couldn’t afford to be reckless. Not about this.

“I know, sweet girl, but that day and in the days and weeks and months that followed, I learned something very special while your dad had cancer. You see, there was a time when I couldn’t fathom having the strength to bear the weight of a cancer diagnosis. It was my worst fear, and I just knew I could never endure such a trial. Yet there I was. There we were. Bearing it. Enduring. Surviving. Thriving, even.”

She waited, puzzled, so I continued.

“Michaela, that season was a priceless gift, because God proved before my very eyes that He will always keep His promise to give us enough grace. He gives enough grace on regular days, and He gives enough grace on hard days. And even though my future and yours might hold things that we cannot even fathom, and might require amounts of grace that right now seem questionable or even impossible, God will keep His promise to give enough, no matter how much ‘enough’ requires.”

She pondered this for a moment. “So sometimes enough is really a lot?”

I hope my smile conveyed the tenderness I felt for this daughter of mine as I smoothed her hair.

“Yes, that’s it exactly. When we need a lot of grace, that’s how much He gives. Even if we can’t comprehend what that looks like right now, we can trust that God will be there waiting to hand it to us when we get there.”

“So when you sound so sure about saying ‘Yes, I am a Christian,’ even if it means you’re going to die, it’s not because you’re sure of you…” she hesitated.

“It’s because I’m sure of Him.”

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you,

for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

~~

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16 Replies to “Even at Gunpoint, Yes, I Am a Christian”

  1. Marian

    Your story reminded me so much of my own similar experience. Even though we are still in the middle of it, and unless God choses to intervene will be for the foreseeable future, I see every day that goes by how God gives the grace we need when we need it. We all hope we will never be faced with standing up for our faith at gun-point, but the truth is Christians all over world have been facing it for years. We shouldn’t expect to go through life without any sort of persecution.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      You’re exactly right, Marian. Persecution is not a new phenomenon for the vast majority of the world, is it? May we look to the example of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, who are standing strong and holding fast, no matter the risk.

      Reply
    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      We may indeed, Anastasia. Interestingly, we have friends who named their daughter Anastasia, and I’m sure that you’re aware that your name means “Resurrection.” 🙂 May we all remember the resurrection power within us (Ephesians 1:19-20), and trust the One whose sacrifice purchased it on our behalf.

      Reply
  2. June

    I love this, Jennifer. It reminds me that every moment of our lives matters to God. He does not waste one single second. Our trials are sometimes the very experiences that save us. Blessings.

    Reply
  3. Be aware

    The persecutions are often not seen directly be aware they can be subtle and include shutting out or disrupting Christian fellowship. Remember in jail the greatest punishment they can give is isolation, be aware of your fellow Christians and open doors don’t close them. Know that the other side wishes to create division and pain in order to take hope causing despair.

    Reply
  4. Emily

    I love this post, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like when we think about this subject we forget that everyday life can be so much more difficult than just a simple yes–I mean, in the moment, we know we’re going to be going to heaven. Personally I think it’s harder to stand up for Christ every moment of every day, when we’ll have to live with the consequences for weeks or months or even years. When we know we might lose friends or jobs because of our proclaimed faith in Christ, following Jesus becomes so much more difficult than just saying yes. When we have to continually own up to our sin and hypocrisy to those who don’t believe in Christ and what we say, faith is so much harder.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      I can see your point, Emily. Living for Christ every day in a real-life way that makes a difference in my work and my play and my relationships and my attitudes is a critical aspect of being a Christian. That kind of faith ought to be more familiar to us, because it’s part of the experience of all living Christians. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! May God prepare us for the days ahead, come what may.

      Reply
  5. Channing

    Hi!

    I think what you said about being able to stand for your faith because you’re sure in Jesus Christ is very powerful! I love the story you included here to make the dilemma a little more relateable. Not many people will have a gun put to their head and be asked to declare their faith at death’s door, but we have to make the choice to trust in Christ every day, and during difficulties. Thanks for sharing.

    Something else I wanted to include here is a encouragement to change your featured image. While the image of a gun being pointed at you certainly is powerful and provocative, it doesn’t necessarily portray the image I think you are trying to convey in this post. That image is an image of fear. Christ is the image of hope, of welcoming, of strength and courage and of peace, and I think that is more what you are trying to emphasize. I almost didn’t click to read your post because I was really turned off by the photo. Just fellow blogger to fellow blogger, I wanted you to know that.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Hi, Channing, and welcome! Thank you for letting me know that this post encouraged you. I also appreciate your feedback about the image. I chose this particular one because although it is jarring, I felt that it conveyed the idea that Christi-followers must be prepared to face this reality. We can be quick to distance ourselves from persecution, not really believing that it can actually reach the U.S. I’ll continue to consider your perspective, however, and I thank you for sharing it.

      Reply

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