I just finished reading Song of the Nightingale by Helen Birhane (pronounced Bur-haun-ee). It was a short book and a quick read but a hard book to read because of the content. Helen's story is one of modern-day persecution and torture because she refused to deny Christ. She is from the country of Eritrea, where Christians are being persecuted for their faith yet today.
Helen was born in 1974 (she is five years younger than I am). She was taken to prison in 2003 and released (on the brink of death) in the year 2006. Persecution is happening today.
I heard about this book when I was listening to a Persecution Podcast a few months ago, and Helen was the featured story. One of The Voice of the Martyrs contacts had recently spoken with Helen (Helen and her daughter were able to escape from Eritrea and now live in another country where they are safe for the time being). The VOM contact asked Helen if she had a message for the church in the west. She said this:
"Christians in the west are not willing to give up their comfort. They are free, but they are not really free because they are attached to their possessions. We must take advantage of this freedom. My message for Christians in the west is that we must overcome fear. You do not die until it is your time to die. Realize that when you teach the gospel, some will accept it and some will reject it. Jesus told us in the Bible that the world would not accept Him, so we will not be accepted. Nonacceptance should not keep us from preaching the Word. When we decide to follow the gospel, we have to know that people will reject us."
Also of note: At one time, in Eritrea, Helen was free to worship Christ openly (she grew up in a Christian home). Freedom can be taken away very suddenly, and it can happen in any country.
I highly recommend reading this book and checking out the Voice of the Martyrs website for more information about the persecuted church. Let's not forget them. And let's go out and share the gospel while we still have the freedom to do it.
Click here if you would like to order this book from Voice of the Martyrs. (You can find the Kindle version on Amazon but not the paperback book).
I will end this post with a paragraph Helen wrote in the epilogue of her book:
" I want to give a message to those of you who are Christians and live in the free world: you must not take your freedom for granted. Use every opportunity to praise the Lord every day. If I could sing in prison, imagine what you could do for God's glory with your freedom."