Fiery loe“Islam is the only way to heaven. Therefore apostasy away from Islam is the worse thing that could happen to us and our loved ones. We need to prevent apostasy at all costs. Therefore only the most severe penalty will do for anyone caught trying to influence a Muslim away from Islam.”

In a nutshell, the above is a summary of the logic behind the arrest of 24 members of a Christian aid organization by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers. (I assume the political realities are much more complex.)

One can question if fear is the way to capture one’s heart for any faith system. But that is a question for another time.

The question for today is–what are Christians to do when their brethren are imprisoned, allegedly for propagating the gospel? (This has yet to be proven.) What are we to do when our brothers and sisters face execution for, well, for being Christians?

Feeding on a daily diet of bad news, Christians, like everyone else, run the risk of being desensitized to the horrors of the world–even when they happen to their own. And if you happen to come from societies that have not experienced persecution for evangelism in recent history, the task of empathising with our brethren in Afghanistan becomes even more difficult. Yet care we must.

1 Corinthians 12:26a: “When one part suffers, all suffer together…”, may be referring to a local church but the principle can be legitimately extrapolated to the wider body of Christ.

But there is no ambiguity at all with verses like Hebrews 13: 1-3:”Never cease to love your fellow Christians. Do not neglect to show hospitality; by doing this some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those in prison, as if you were there with them, and those who are being maltreated, for you are vulnerable too.” REB

What then are we to do?

We are to pray for their release. That is what the early church did when Peter was imprisoned (Acts 12: 1-19). Somehow, we need to find a space in our prayer lists, between prayers for the building fund and prayers for aunt May”s sinus problem, to pray for our brethren facing a possible death sentence in Afghanistan.

We must bring to bear any legitimate political influence we can to help secure their release. Paul had no qualms using his Roman citizenship when it was appropriate (Acts 22: 22-30). While our trust is in God alone, we also recognize that God sometimes works through the institutions and structures of the day.

Our brothers and sisters are facing trial very likely for their lives. What are you doing about it? Yes, martyrdom has always been a key biblical apologetic. But so is sacrificial love for the brethren