Eritrea is called the North Korea of Africa. Cut out of the north end of Ethiopia, it is squeezed between Sudan and Djibouti on the Red Sea. It began its struggle to break away from Ethiopia in the 1960s and spent most of the next 50 years at war with that nation. The tiny nation has seen so much war that, for two years, it was responsible for the majority of refugees entering Europe. Even though the country has known peace in the past few years, its government – like that of North Korea – is so repressive, over 3% of its population has fled country.
Like most authoritarian nations, the elite grow obscenely wealthy, the masses starve, and the a dictator wrestles for control of freedoms, including freedom of religion. In Eritrea, about half the people are Islamic and the other half are Christian, but only three Christian churches are recognized: The Catholic Church, the Orthodox (Coptic) Church, and the Lutherans. All others are illegal.
Other churches may register with the government, but registration is such a complicated, lengthy, and invasive processes that the independent church registration has ground to a halt.
Many churches, then, meet in secret, illegally.
The Voice of the Martyrs just released the story of a worship leader in Eritrea – Helen Bethany – who was arrested for her participation in an outlawed church. She was imprisoned for 10 months, kept locked in a shipping container with a severely mentally handicapped woman. The woman physically abused her.
In spite of her imprisonment in such harsh conditions, Helen sang and prayed throughout the ordeal, even when guards beat her for it. She explains why she sang in this quote from The Voice of the Martyrs News, August 14, 2018:
When I was in prison just worshiping, [it] just kind of gave me strength. Also when you sing, it’s a heavy stone on the head of Satan, because he put you in these kind of things and when you start worshiping he is shocked. People don’t understand when something happen they close their door and cry … so he comes with other kind of [trials] or you repeat the same exam.
But when you start worshiping God … it is totally no space for Satan to attack you again and again.
What does following Jesus cost you? Your very life. Jesus tells us to consider the cost before we commit to Him, for we must give Him that which we love most: everything that we are, everything that we do, and everything that we ever hope to be. The cost is the commitment of our entire life. Our life is His to use as He pleases or to take as He wishes, for only He sees it from the unique perspective of the all-knowing creator of life. It is His breath in these lungs that I so foolishly consider my own. Who am I to argue with the very essence of life? All that I am is His.
My Tribute – by Andre’ Crouch
How can I say thanks for the things
You have done for me?
Things so undeserved yet You gave
To prove Your love for me
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am, and ever hope to be
I owe it all to Thee
Holiness is, perhaps, the most misunderstood concept in Christianity. Anyone who has striven to follow the life of Christ can likely tell you that it is impossible to do. No one can match His love, His grace, or His compassion. For no one but Jesus is perfect. Once the believer is filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, though, he or she is filled to the brim with the love of Christ, and desires nothing more than to please God and follow in Christ’s steps. The love of sin is gone. In its place is a love and passion for others. That is Christian Holiness. This is Christian Holiness Daily.