“I am a Christian,” Meriam Ibrahim told the judge at her sentencing hearing in May, “and I will remain a Christian.”
The case of the 27-year-old Sudanese woman sparked international outrage when she was sentenced to die by hanging for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. At the time she was eight months pregnant and has since given birth to a baby girl.
Ibrahim was released Monday when an appeals court ruled that a lower court’s judgment was faulty. However, yesterday when Meriam and her husband attempted the leave the country, they were arrested again.
The original criminal complaint was filed by her Muslim brother. He said that the family was shocked when Ibrahim had married a Christian, Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen. In Sudan a Muslim woman’s marriage to a Christian man is illegal, therefore she was charged with adultery. Even though Meriam was raised as a Christian by her mother, the government considered her to be a Muslim because that is her father’s religion.
The case of Meriam Ibarhim is nothing new in Sudan. The Islamic militant government has burned “Christian villages,” taken their children as slaves, and tortured worshipers of Christ.
It reminds us of Jesus warning, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20)
We have been blessed in America to enjoy freedom of religion. The first amendment of our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, says in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
There are readers of ThePreachersWord around the world who do not enjoy this right. In 27 countries Christians are subjected to extreme or severe persecution. If they are believers in Jesus they must worship in secret. Undercover. Hiding. Fearful of governmental persecution. While Muslims can freely worship and practice their religion in America, Muslim controlled countries are not quite so tolerant of those professing faith in Jesus. In fact, our supposed friend and ally Saudi Arabia allows no expression of Christianity. No Bibles. No crosses. No Jesus! The price for conversion to Christ is death!
While persecution is increasing in Islamic lands, there is also more scorn and ridicule heaped upon Christians in our country. Yes, we still have freedom to worship in the USA, but there is an elitist intolerance for our beliefs in the sanctify of life, the sacredness of marriage, and Biblical values.
We need to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy. But we need to be ready to suffer. Prepared to be persecuted. Even willing to die for our faith. The day may come when these “rights” we now cherish are taken from us. What then?
Let us be aware and warned by the apostle Peter’s admonition:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.
16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1 Peter 4:12-16, ESV)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman