As a young believer I marvelled at stories of persecuted Christians in the early church. The horrible suffering, torture and death they faced were incredible to learn about. I often wondered what such persecution would be like.
Well we are now quickly finding this out. All around the world Christianity is coming under severe attack. Those who stand up for pro-faith, pro-life and pro-family values are increasingly becoming pariahs in their own lands. Sometimes the persecution gets so intense that the only course is to flee to another country, and hope the anti-Christian bigotry is less severe there.
A good case in point is Christian pro-life activist Julio Severo of Brazil. For years he has sought to stand up for biblical and family values, but he has paid a heavy price as a result. Indeed, things got so bad that he has recently been forced to flee Brazil as a political refugee. He is now an outcast from his own homeland.
His story has been told elsewhere, but I can offer a few highlights here. He had to flee Brazil because federal authorities sought to prosecute him following a complaint of “homophobia”. He had written an article on the nation’s Gay Parade in 2006, and because he did not take the PC line on this, he had now run afoul of the law.
Things went from bad to worse, so he eventually had to take his family and belongings and escape the pro-homosexual fascist government of Brazil. Said Severo, “faced with this absurdity, I was forced to leave the country with my family: a wife in the advanced stages of pregnancy and two little children. . . . At the same time, I am making another statement. I will not be silenced. The voice that God gave me will continue to be used to alert Brazil, whether I am in India, Kenya, Nicaragua, or any other country in the world.”
Indeed, the titles of recent related LifeSiteNews articles about Brazil show how bad things are in this nation:
Brazilian Government Says 99% of Citizens Are “Homophobic” and Must Be Reeducated
Brazilian President: Opposition to Homosexuality is a “Perverse Disease”
Brazilian Government Punishes Dissenters of Pro-Homosexuality Policy
Brazilian Homosexuals File “Hate” Charges Against Brazilian Christians
Brazilian Gay Groups Launch Multiple Lawsuits to Silence Christian Opposition
Brazil Attacks Against Family Defenders Backed by Pro-Homosexual Regime of Nation’s President
But the story does not end there. There is a bit of good news to come out of all this. Severo has just sent a new email out, reporting how one of his homosexual persecutors has now found Christ, left the homosexual lifestyle, and apologised to Severo. Here is what the man (who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons) has said:
“I am a former gay militant, and now I am on the way of recovery. . . . I entered the homosexual movement when I was 16 years old and I thought that it was serious, where we fought for respect and dignity. Today I know that they do not want this, but just power, and by misleading us that we would get dignity and respect, they took us to a diametrically opposed life.
“After four hard troubled years, I left the movement. In the last two years, I have been thinking over the matter…. I suffered depression, a suicide attempt, I took drugs and I attended psychiatrists. Well, nothing worked better than the Truth, even though it was difficult to digest. Today, more mature, more aware of the responsibilities I have, and of the consequences of my decisions, I resumed the way home. I returned to the educations I received in my childhood.
“I feel the Holy Spirit entering my messy bedroom (this is the way I imagine in my heart) and clear up the mess. I make mistakes, I sin and I pray. The Holy Spirit comes and once more clears us again. In that cycle of construction and destruction, I am more firm today.
“Even with two or three stumbles, it is reasonable to tell that I have been chaste for about one year. Also, I am away from drugs. I am on the process to make peace with myself. So I need firstly to forgive myself and ask forgiveness from those I harmed in some way in the past. This is the reason I got in touch with you.
“Julio, in the homosexual movement I played the role of a spy, an auscultator. Among others, your blog was one of those I followed with magnifying glass. Of course, I watched the communication among evangelicals, to know their stands and how you were articulating and coordinating your initiatives. I did not harm you directly, but my work was a small contribution, because there were and there are hundreds of activists like me, responsible for the attacks you have been suffering since 2005 (at least).
“The attacks took on the big form that they did because voluntary loggerheads like me helped. We helped even by planning strategies of ‘counterattacks’. We used to attack your messages, to harass you on Orkut [a Brazilian internet service as Facebook], and vilify you. I was a pig, a worthless, a wicked, and an impudent.
“I am having a hard time to write this message, because I am very ashamed. I am embarrassed to have to do it, but I need to do it. Julio Severo, I harassed you, I mocked you, I maligned you and your honor. I conspired against you. I was your enemy, as David told in Psalm 34.
“Julio, I mistook, I sinned, I committed offenses and insults against you. I am repentant. There is no justification for my crimes. Even so, trusting in your Christian morality, I want to ask your forgiveness. Julio, I am sorry for all the times I harmed you. I want you to know that if I could come back in time, I would not do it again. If at least I knew what I know today. Julio, please forgive me!
“You may tell my history, because I know that it will help other people to understand that militants do not seek respect and dignity, but power and domination. I am aware that through my mistakes, people may ‘get immunized’ against the dissimulation that you can see today.
“I only repeat that you should protect my identity, for God’s sake, because I am afraid of gay militants. I know arm and drug traffickers, and corrupt men of the State, and believe me Julio, I am less afraid of them than of the politically organized gay movement.
“I want you to tell my history as a way to amend my behavior, so that attentive parents may keep their children (gay or not) from following the same devious ways and help parents who already have children living in the queer way of life to reduce damages.”
What a moving and amazing testimony. And this is what Severo said in reply: “I forgive you, in the name of Jesus, for your harassments, mockeries and vilification against me and my honor. I forgive you, in the name of Jesus, for your conspiracies against me and for your enmity. I forgive you, in the name of Jesus, for your offenses and insults against me. I forgive you, in the name of Jesus, for all the times you harmed me.
“I want you to know that, even if you were still in the homosexual movement, nevertheless I would love you. The purpose of my articles is to take out from the homosexual movement so many victims as possible. I am glad that you left this destructive movement. I FORGIVE YOU!”
Severo says he posted all this for two reasons: “1. Because the young former activist needs your prayers, so that the Holy Spirit may lead him to the fullness of revelation and experience with Jesus Christ, the only Savior and Lord. 2. Because it is important that everybody may see that Jesus Christ can do all things, including delivering gay activists from the claws of lies and deception.”
So while the persecution is certainly heating up, the grace of God is always greater. To be honest, I don’t want to have to flee my country with my family because anti-Christian bigotry is getting out of control. But it is heading that way, and unless we all rise up and be counted, and make a stand, this will be our fate as well.
So let this be a lesson to everyone reading these pages. The outright persecution of the people of God is accelerating at rapid pace. We can either seek to fight this now while we have a chance, or we can simply sit idly by until it becomes too late. Then we will not have the freedom to speak out.
I leave you with a well-known saying of Martin Niemoller, German pastor and Holocaust survivor: “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”