Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego ; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? "Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire ; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands ?" Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire ; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." Daniel 3:13-18. These three young men who were far from their devastated home land (Judah) and were some of "the best of the land," did not hesitate to put there lives on the line by refusing to bow to the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar. It was prohibited by the second commandment of the Law given to the Israeli nation on Mount Sinai.
In like fashion, many believers in Christ across the world do not hesitate to choose Christ over man's affirmation and praise. Today we have a few words about Nigeria.
Your church probably doesn't have armed guards at the gate, checking each vehicle as it enters the parking lot. In fact, your church probably doesn't have a gate at all.
In Jos, Nigeria, which sits on the fault line between mostly Muslim northern Nigeria and the predominantly Christian south, churches without guards or gates are easy targets for the Islamist Boko Haram terrorists. Earlier this year, Boko Haram warned all Christians to leave norther Nigeria. They've backed up their threats with repeated attacks on churches, police stations and government buildings'
For Christians in Nigeria, Hebrews 12:1--- we are surronded by so great a cloud of witnesses"-- has deep significance. The word witness in this verse is translated form the Greek "martys," or "martyr."
The Voice of Martys helps protect God's witnesses in Nigeria by providing tools for evanglesm, support for Christian workers and medical care for those injured in attacks
We know that guards and gates are not our ultimate protection and that we must often relinquish our earthly "safety" in order to be faithful witnesses. Yet we also know that we are assured of God's supernatural protection. His witnesses have the protection of angels and a legacy of victors in Christ who has gone before them. And ultimately , we have the assurance of eternal protection in heaven.
As you drive your church parking lot this week, unhindered by guards or gates, please remember in pray for God's witnesses in Nigeria, our brotghers and sisters in Christ.
Voice of Martyrs, In God's Underground, Special issue 2013.