Dear Valley Church family,
Please allow me to introduce you to a sister you never knew you had. Naomi* from Kenya is 45 years old and is the mother of nine children. Until recently, her hometown was a very peaceful town. But in April 2019, that peace was shattered when terrorists started attacking the community.
My husband and I were at home with my children. After preparing for his Sunday sermon, Eli [my husband] told me he was going to see his friend, another pastor. Some hours later, we heard gunshots. My husband wasn’t far away, and I sensed he was in trouble. The shooting stopped after two hours. I was standing in front of my house, hoping and praying I would see my husband.
Then I saw the pastor friend Eli went to visit coming. He looked very troubled. As soon as the pastor caught his breath, he said, ‘Naomi take heart—your husband is dead.’ He told me my husband insisted that he wanted to come home to be with his family when the shooting started. He tried to stop him from exiting the house, but Eli refused. A few meters from his house, Eli was shot and killed.
My world came to a standstill. I was speechless. My husband risked his life because of us, and now he was no more. My children and I wept bitterly together. Life became so tough and unbearable. As the days went by, we had to relocate to the city of Kaya for safety because more attacks were taking place.
Naomi is one of thousands of people who have lost a loved one because of their faith in Christ! According to Open Doors, so far this year 2,983 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. On average, that’s 8 Christians killed every day. Since 2019 there’s been a 6% increase in the number of Christians worldwide who experience high levels of violence, intimidation, false imprisonment, pressure within their communities and families, and like Pastor Eli, even death. That adds up to 260 million of our family members world-wide!
When Jesus sent out his disciples in Matthew 10:16 he said, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” He described what was in store for those who would follow Him. He doesn’t sugar coat or side-step what it may cost. In fact, Jesus tells us to EXPECT it!
And yet somehow Jesus also instructs us to “fear not” in Matt. 10:26 and 31. Naomi certainly struggled, but she also had a deep and abiding faith that went even deeper during these trials. She said, “Day and night, we kept meeting in the church to cry out to God to remember us and send us help. And God has answered our prayers. He promised to never leave us or forsake us. God is a miracle-working God.”
This Sunday we’ll look at the predictions of Jesus for persecution but also at the PROMISES of his provision in the midst of it. Read Matt. 10:16 to 33 to prepare for what is coming!
*Not her real name