Precious freedom

SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend reflects on the many Adventists being persecuted around the world, and how we take freedom for granted.

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In Chile, anti-Christian vigilantes have damaged and burnt churches recently, including Seventh-day Adventist churches. In Burundi, Adventists have been beaten for worshipping on Sabbath. In China, more than 300 Adventist churches have been closed as part of an effort to suppress all religion. In Pakistan, an Adventist has been falsely accused of blaspheming Allah and has been sentenced to death. The Myanmar military government has been persecuting Muslims and Christians. In Laos, newly baptised Adventists had their electric power cables stripped from their houses for holding fast to their belief in Jesus. This has all happened in 2021. To hold and follow the values of the Bible and live for Jesus is a real challenge in many parts of the world. Jesus did say that we should expect trouble and persecution, but also know that He has overcome the world (John 16:33, Luke 21:12, 2 Timothy 3:12).

Besides praying for those who are persecuted and those doing the persecution (Matthew 5:44), what else should we be doing?

The General Conference supports the International Religious Liberty Association and has a few people based around Washinton DC and other parts of the world who are involved in public affairs and influencing law-makers to uphold basic human freedoms—including religion. In the South Pacific Division, there are some pastors assigned in various countries to do the same thing. Seventh-day Adventists do have a good history and reputation in this area. These fundamental human rights are being challenged wherever we turn—a real sign of the times. We must do more.

We must keep praying for world leaders (1 Timothy 2:1,2) and have people assigned to help governments understand our principles. However, local church members could participate in community groups and multi-religious organisations to listen and learn the trends in society and share our perspectives. Trouble will come more often as we approach the coming of Jesus, but in that trouble, we can witness for Jesus and biblical truth, and it is always good to have friends in many places.