they will persecute you also
I just finished one of the most riveting books I have ever read, titled “The Devil in Pew Number Seven,” by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo (Tyndale House, 2012). It is a true account of the author’s parents’ trials and tribulations.
Being from Bogalusa, La., and later from Mobile, Ala., Robert and Ramona Nichols accepted the pastorate of a small, independent church in the summer of 1969 at Sellerstown, a rural community eight miles south of Whiteville, N.C.
Immediately, the church grew and all was well until “the devil in pew number seven” went into action. He was a well-to-do businessman who ran the church until Nichols came in a pastor.
He greatly resented the pastor and did awful things, hoping Nichols would leave. Seven times he had dynamite detonated in the yard of the parsonage in the middle of the night, and twice the parsonage was attacked with gunfire.
Everyone knew the madman was behind the trouble, but he would hire henchmen to do the dirty work and even the FBI could not catch him for a long while.
After five years, Nicholas, a strong, healthy ex-Navy man, began having trouble with his nerves because of the incessant harassment of him and his family by “the devil in pew number seven.” Ultimately, he suffered a complete breakdown and was hospitalized in Mobile, Ala.
He finally died at 46 years old. The question arises: Why would a young pastor having good success in his pastorate suffer such extreme persecution?
Rebecca’s horrific account of a bomb-setting madman in the congregation and her own family as the target is an almost unbelievable story of modern times. With one severe persecution after another, it is reminiscent of biblical Job’s tribulations.
The Bible says that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NKJV). Some of us have more tribulations than others.
Someone has said that adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with. Edwin Chapin commented: “The brightest crowns that are won in Heaven have been tried and smelted, and polished, and glorified through the furnace of tribulation.”
Alan Sears heads up a battery of 2,326 Christian attorneys dedicated to defending laws our country is founded upon. Recently, he said the war for laws impacting the soul of America has never been more intense than it is right now.
He also said: “As a Christian American, your choice is clear — you can either give up, surrendering your hard-won freedom, or you can support the fight for it.”
People are being persecuted today for their faith in this country. For example, Barronelle Stutzman, a great-grandmother and a florist in Washington state, could not, with clear conscience, help her friend and longtime customer with his same-sex marriage. It was difficult for her to turn him down, but she knew she had to follow her values.
Since then, she has received hate mail, angry phone calls, and unprintable comments. Then, she received a letter from the State Attorney General threatening heavy fines, and being forced to donate to a homosexual organization.
And she is just a great-grandmother with a floral shop! What became of our freedom? Yes, believers are being persecuted for their faith.
Not only are Christian businesses being targeted, but so are local churches. The Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church in Helena, Mont., was censored.
The pastor and others spoke in support of biblical marriage, and a homosexual activist group complained. The state sought to regulate the church and imposed fines. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit did overturn the conviction.
Billy Graham once said: “While Christians in America have worshiped without fear or threat of physical abuse for their beliefs, thousands of their brothers in Christ throughout the world have been tortured and martyred for confessing the name of Christ.”
It is vital for us to defend the right to speak and hear the truth, not only for individuals but also for your local church.
The laws of God laid down in the Bible have not changed. God has not changed, so may He help us to stand staunchly for His truth found in His Word and carefully follow Him until Jesus comes.