Bible Reading: Daniel 6:1-22
The visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates in January was an experience I will always treasure in ministry. The fellowship, hospitality, worship with the believers and the strong attention to the Bible showed a Church firm in the faith in a restrictive society. The UAE is an Islamic society and Christians need to be careful and respect government laws.
Most Christians in the Emirates work on Sunday, so meetings are arranged on Friday, which is the holy day for Islam, or Sunday night after work. Churches often meet in a large complex that might have 11 to 25 congregations meeting in various parts of the complex, sometimes at the same time. The government provides the land, and pays for water and electricity. A Church is not allowed to conduct a public meeting outside of the building. No literature can be distributed and there can be no proselytising.
I met some international Christian pilots who explained how they take a Bible into the cockpit, and read their Bible in flight when the plane is on auto pilot. When a co-pilot asks if he can read their Bible, an exchange takes place like this: “You can read my Bible but I will not give it to you. You must take it from my hand.” This is to avoid any legal implications or offence. The Christian pilot could lose his job and be deported.
Notwithstanding these restrictions, and perhaps sharpened in their faith because of these restrictions, I found believers strong in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever society in which we live we are called to be faithful. We fit in where we can fit in, and respect the government in power and live in peace.
Let us pause to remember in prayer those Christians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Uganda, Thailand, Burma, China and so many other places in the world where the Christian faith must go underground or believers must be very careful.
Australian Christians have a different set of circumstances. We are not physically persecuted and we have not lost our freedom to witness. However, we are facing an Australian society that is more secular and cynical, and the Church is often sidelined by the media, and we might feel out of the mainstream of society. We too are to be faithful !
Sometimes there comes a point where we have to take a stand, and it may be at a cost.
Daniel was prepared to fit in to a point under a foreign regime but there came a time when he had to show his integrity and faith, and the story shows the Lord was with him even in the Lion‟s den.