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Why people choose to stay behind for the sake of the Gospel

Nigeria
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

“I don’t need a ride. I need more ammunition.”

The recent words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy may echo through history alongside phrases from notable freedom fighters such as Patrick Henry ("give me liberty or give me death!") and Winston Churchill ("never give in").

But these political figures are not alone in standing for their beliefs when under attack by those trying to destroy them and end their way of life. Christians in more than 70 nations face regular attacks and persecution because of their Christian faith and testimony, and many choose to remain in their country to serve God and tell others of His love.

As the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last year, many Afghan Christians made the decision to stay in the country. While they know that the Islamist Taliban view them as apostates who should be executed, they also know — and regard much more highly — Jesus’ directive to go and make disciples. Who, they ask themselves, will make disciples in Afghanistan if we Christians all leave? And so, they stay.

The same is true in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram militants target churches and their leaders. One pastor with whom The Voice of the Martyrs works with sent his family to a safer part of the country, remaining to face the danger on his own. Who, he asks, will shepherd my flock if I’m not here? So, he chooses to stay.

Similar examples of faith and courage exist in China, Iran, North Korea, northern Mozambique, Somalia, and many other nations where Christians suffer imprisonment, beatings, sexual assaults, and even death because of their witness. Since these Christians are not fighting a physical war, they need spiritual weapons instead of bullets or missiles. So, they ask us to pray for them and to send more Bibles.

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who founded The Voice of the Martyrs 55 years ago, famously spoke for persecuted Christians using a phrase that would ring true today in Kyiv, Mariupol, and Odessa: “Give us the tools we need, and we will pay the price for using them.”

As world leaders decide how to answer the call from Ukrainians, Christians in free nations must decide how to answer the requests of our spiritual family members in restricted nations and hostile areas. Will we answer their call to pray for them and send more Bibles? Will we provide more tools, training, and encouragement for front-line workers? Or will we turn a deaf ear to their requests?

The Voice of the Martyrs is committed to the principle that every Christian can and should have his or her own copy of God’s Word — a Bible for every believer. In recent years, VOM has delivered more than 1 million Bibles annually to those living on the world’s most dangerous mission fields, places like Iran, China, Afghanistan, India, and northern Nigeria. Our international team is committed to facing any necessary risk to deliver Bibles — spiritual ammunition — to Christians living in restricted nations and hostile areas.

Our bold Christian brothers and sisters aren’t asking for a ride to a safer area. They are asking for more ammunition to fight spiritual battles in enemy territory. And despite facing a seemingly overwhelming enemy, they choose to stay, knowing the battle is already won in Christ.

Todd Nettleton is the host of The Voice of the Martyrs Radio, a weekly half-hour program heard on 1000+ radio stations and by podcast listeners around the world. Todd has served with The Voice of the Martyrs for 21 years and speaks regularly at VOM Advance Conferences. He has traveled to more than 20 restricted and hostile nations and interviewed hundreds of believers who faced persecution for their Christian witness. He is the author of Restricted Nations: North Korea and was part of the writing team for four other VOM books.

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