STORIES AT YWAM HARPENDEN
(📸: Violet Odnoralov)
How Much Do We Value Our Freedom?
It was our first weeks in Western Asia. Me and my outreach team had spent the afternoon in a small coffee shop talking to a young woman we met there in that city. After sharing our plans for the future, interests and some of our experiences with God, we were preparing to leave the place.
Meanwhile, a battle was fought in my head and I had a few seconds to respond to the restlessness that was bubbling in my heart. Before we began our missionary journey, we had received several orientations about how careful we should be in that country where preaching the Gospel was not fully accepted. Faced with that, I wasn’t sure if what I was about to say was really safe.
The words seemed to be handcuffed inside me and struggling to escape. I felt fear, insecurity. Finally, before it was too late, I was able to release them. “Can I pray for you?” I asked our newest friend.
The young woman’s face was as confused as possible and then I realized that she had no idea what I was talking about. I explained what it was about and she politely accepted it. After the prayer, from confused her face became radiant. We said goodbye and went home, safe and sound.
But this is not the reality of many Christians around the world who know what it is to have blocked the freedom to live their faith. This year alone, the non-governmental organization Portas Abertas recorded 2,983 deaths of Christians in countries where religious persecution is present. And when they’re not killed, they suffer other kinds of violence.
“Among the most common situations are deprivation of physical liberty, serious physical or mental harm and property damage. This can be identified through murders, attacks on Christian buildings, arrests without trial, kidnappings, sexual harassment, forced marriages, expulsions and escapes”, the institution reports.
What if the story described above had happened in one of the places marked by these statistics? The ending could have been completely different.
This and other episodes that I’ve experienced in Western Asia – which is nowhere close to the data gathered by the Portas Abertas – have helped me realize how valuable the freedom we have in the country I come from is. A small but important lesson that is true when they say that we only see the value of something when we lose it or even, in this case, when we see ourselves with the slightest possibility of losing it.
Now, my question is: how much do we value our freedom?
Written by Esaú Moraes.