Welcome to our blog for this week of February 17th. I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day with your favorite valentines. I’m Lee Harder, the senor pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. We celebrate Christ in worship every Sunday at 8:30 AM and 10:45 AM. If you can’t stop by, then please check out our streamed worship instead. St. Paul just might have what you’re looking for in a spiritual home. Come see us and find out.
Since the middle of January, we have been in a spiritual campaign as an exercise program to strengthen the heart of a believer. We’re trying to come to the realization that there are dark forces at work in the world that seek to silence God’s Word of hope in Jesus Christ. That truth took on a new reality this past week.
Apparently, several months ago a former Muslim, who has become a Christian and trained to serve as a pastor currently leading a congregation elsewhere in the nation, was arrested in Minnesota’s Mall of America. Here in his own words are the events that transpired.
I was speaking at a church yesterday in Minneapolis, Minnesota and after the church one of the pastors and his son took me to the Mall of America. We randomly ran into some Muslims and we began a casual conversation. They asked me where I’m from and I told them, Iran. The conversation led to whether I’m a Muslim or not and I said I used to be a Muslim but I converted to Christianity. They asked me why? What happened? Why did you change? I told them after I heard that Jesus died for me and rose again, I gave my heart to him. And I was giving them my testimony. Another Muslim lady who was hearing us went and told the security that, “I’m harassing them.” The security came and arrested me, filed a report and the police came and took me to jail. I was charged with “illegal soliciting” and “criminal trespassing.” I need to appear in court sometime soon.
This event happening scares me in ways I haven’t been before. As a Christian and a pastor, I am only too aware of the painful truth and reality that Christians are no longer, how shall I put it, “The flavor of the month.” We are seeing the Christian faith, an integral part of the foundation of who we are as a nation and a people, being discarded which is sad enough. The Christian faith has been locked out our schools, the marketplace and the halls of justice; but, of greater concern is how other belief systems are being not just tolerated, (as they should be in our free nation) but embraced with enthusiastic acceptance where Christianity is not.
I truly believe God has blessed this country so richly as a Christian nation for a reason. We are to be an example of freedom and liberty for all regardless of creed or race. While we are far from perfect, by any means, we still are a model that the world could pattern itself after in generosity, freedom and compassion, despite our flaws which we do not deny, but seek to outgrow.
Yet, now there seems a concerted effort to silence who we are as believers in Jesus Christ. I have heard examples of pastors in Canada who have been silenced in their pulpits because of threats that their sermons can be considered “hate speech” because God’s Word runs contrary to current public standards of correctness. It would not surprise me if such would eventually happen here with current political and social trends. Now arresting a pastor because he is witnessing, not proselytizing or evangelizing, but sharing how he became a Christian to some Muslims who asked him how and why seems just wrong?
I continue to be shocked and dismayed when I see and hear how Christians are being attacked and ostracized from different elements of our culture because they are Christian. I am angered and enraged when I see people, especially leaders within the Christian community, treating forces that threaten our faith and the freedom of this nation as acceptable and equal in status to the Lord they confess.
Here’s where I stand concerning these outside forces. We do not worship the same God, but I accept every one’s right, in this free nation, to worship a god or deity any way they want. I expect the same from them in this free America. This is especially true of those who have the responsibility and duty to protect those rights. We all have freedom of speech and of worship as we see fit, regardless of our religion or faith. From a Christian perspective, acknowledging Jesus is not the same as believing in Him for our salvation, but we will respect another’s right to choose a different path. Every Christian should know that truth and act accordingly.
The church has been persecuted before, it is now and will be again in the future. However, I also know and believe it will never be destroyed or silenced because it is the body of Christ. It is His church, not ours. He is in control as these others continually discover to their regret. Fear not for He is with us.
And those are my thoughts. God bless us everyone!
Pastor Lee R. Harder