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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

I recently watched an interview of a young woman, named Deborah Peters, who grew up in Nigeria.  In 2011, when she was only 12, her father and brother were killed right in front of her by armed men from the terrorist group Boko Haram.  Her father, a Christian pastor, was told by the men to renounce his faith.  He refused and responded to the terrorists’ threat by quoting Matthew 10:32-33: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”  They threatened him a second time, and, when he refused to deny Jesus, they shot him three times.  They then turned and killed her brother, who was 14 at the time.

When I heard this story, I was ashamed.  It reminded me of how easy it is to profess Christianity in the U.S., and how often I’ve failed when the stakes were much lower.  If this pastor had denied Jesus to protect his family, very few Christians would have criticized him.  It would be easy to justify that his death would make life very difficult for his children.  He could have rationalized that denying Jesus in front of three men would not cause any harm, and it would allow him to continue as a pastor and potentially bring many others to faith.  Despite this, he chose to proclaim his faith in the most difficult of circumstances.

How often do we remain silent about our faith because someone might not like us,  it might be awkward, or it might hurt our career?  We can come up with many rationalizations, but the simple fact is that we often fear men more than we fear God.  When this pastor refused to deny Jesus, I doubt he knew that his story would be told in front of Congress and covered by the national media.  I doubt he was aware that his courage would be displayed to millions of people around the world.  He likely refused to deny Jesus simply because he feared God more than men.

How do we find the courage to proclaim our faith when the cost is high?  We need to start by proclaiming our faith when the cost is low.  We need to ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to stand our ground when we’re challenged.  We need His presence in our lives daily, so we’re prepared when trials come.  We have to create habits of boldness that will lead to foreheads like flint, so we have the courage to proclaim Jesus even when our lives are on the line.

I pray that God would comfort Deborah in her loss and show her the fruit of her father’s sacrifice.  I also pray that we would all follow his example.

Paul Horrocks
Founder, NYC Justice