There’s a lot of speculation by some of the world’s greatest minds about what Britain’s exit from the European Union might mean 1-5 years from now. Some are hopeful and others . . . well, not so much.
I don’t pretend that I have the answers. In this crazy, mixed-up world where nothing seems to be stable or easily predictable, it’s hard to tell what will happen next week, let alone in a year or more from now. Besides, if the great minds of the world cannot agree what impact Brexit will have on the world or the U.S., then how can I?
I’m okay with that because I have faith.
As Christians, we’re told not to worry about the future or be consumed by the world’s troubles because God’s got our backs (Luke 12:22-34). I take comfort in knowing that.
But, God also gave me this crazy, mixed-up mind that tries to think strategically, especially when seeing what world events might mean to so many Christians in other countries. If I had to make my best educated guess, Brexit isn’t going to be good in terms of protecting religious freedoms throughout the world.
Today, I read two very different news articles that back my theory.
First, Kori Schake, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, told Politico magazine:
Moreover, both Britain and the EU will be consumed with the challenges of severance, and therefore more self-absorbed. From an American perspective, it will be an EU less intrinsically connected to us and less willing to develop and defend common approaches to global issues, and a Britain less able to affect Europe. So, our allies lose and our adversaries gain.
Already, ISIS leaders are rejoicing. Already, other countries are talking about leaving the European Union, or in Scotland’s case, revisiting breaking free from Britain. It might soon be hard to tell who we can turn to for help in fighting against those who do not like religious freedom.
The Barnabas Fund reported that on tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29 (which is today if you’re in Russia right now), the Russian Parliament will discuss adopting new anti-terrorism legislation that back-doors an anti-religious freedom clause.
The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith – even a casual conversation – to have prior authorization from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church. Even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present. Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 rubles (£580; USD $770; €700). There are also restrictions on the extent to which churches can have contact with foreigners; for example, any non-Russian citizen attending a church service would be required to have a work visa or face a fine and expulsion from Russia.
This reminds me of how it was in Russia when Brother Andrew started smuggling bibles into Russian occupied territories in the 1950’s. If you haven’t already read God’s Smuggler, I highly recommend it. If you’ve already read it, you might want to read it again in light of current events.
(Christians in Russia are asking for prayers to be said on Wednesday that this legislation does not pass. Please add this to your prayers for the next 12 hours or so.)
When I consider the evidence, I am more convinced that persecution will increase, not just because of Brexit, but by putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Our allies are breaking up with one another.
ISIS is thrilled about this because it gives them a better chance at attacking.
Russia is trying to turn the clocks back to Communist Era restrictions on the church, missionaries (including those from the U.S.), and non state-sanctioned churches. In fact, if this Russian legislation passes, the church in Russia will look a lot like the church in China, which we’re not too fond of either. Any gains in religious freedom in Russia may soon be lost.
I don’t know what’s next. Except that our Christian brothers and sisters may soon be under attack. We may see increased persecution, and deportation or imprisonment of missionaries and those who stand up for their beliefs. Or worse, and in places we thought religious freedom was gaining ground.
We know that this is supposed to happen. God told us that before Christ returns, persecution will increase (Matt. 24:3-14). He also told us that we don’t know when he will return, so we have to be prepared (Matt. 24:42-43; Mark 13: 33-37). And we do that by using all of the weapons God gave us.
Put on the whole armor of God:
- Gospel message
- Remember our Salvation in Christ
- The Holy Spirit’s guidance
And lastly, the thing that most people forget to add to the complete armor, but one of my favorites:
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. -Ephesians 6:18
With the armor of God, there’s no need to worry about what the future might hold. But be prepared, and keep praying for ALL the saints.