Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Persecution of Christians

I have been reading an account of the revival which took place in Korea exactly one hundred years ago in 1907. It is entitled "When The Spirit's Fire Swept Korea" by Dr. Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936) who was an eye-witness of the wonders which happened there . The text can be found here.

The account is a wonderful chronicle of God's Holy Spirit moving among the people of Korea in the first decade of the 20th century. At one point though, Dr. Goforth made reference to the "persecution of Christians." I found this reference quite extraordinary.

When we typically think of the persecution of Christians, we think of our Christian sisters and brothers around the world who are suffering for their faith in Christ. (See this site for more information about this). However, Goforth was not referring to persecution of Christians but rather persecution by Christians. Even in this instance, he was not referring to such aberrations and sins as the Inquistion.

Rather, Jonathan Goforth was referring to the strong and powerful witness of those Koreans who were new and bold in their Christian faith and how that strong and effective witness was burdensome to those who were not believers in Christ. Goforth wrote:

A burning zeal to make known the merits of the Saviour was a special mark of the Church at Pentecost. The same is not less true of the Korean Church. It was said that the heathen complained that they could not endure the persecution of the Christians. They were evermore telling of the strong points of their Saviour. Some declared they would have to sell out and move to some district where there were no Christians, in order to get rest.

Quite candidly, I had never heard of such a thing before reading this today. Could it be said of us that our witness for Christ was so strong that those who refused to repent and believe in Christ felt so convicted and burdened that they needed to leave?

(The photograph is of Jonathan Goforth and his wife Rosalind).

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