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Will you go screen free for persecuted Christians?

Switch off to stand with silenced, persecuted Christians, says Open Doors UK's Naomi Allen

Young people are seeking authenticity. They are part of a generation brought up on viral marketing and celebrity influencers. They know how to weed out the fake from the genuine. Authenticity is an obvious response to an inauthentic world.

This is a massive challenge to the church. Young people can see when we’re not invested or passionate. They don’t want to be talked down to. They want something that is real and genuine, especially when it comes to faith. 

As parents, youth leaders or church workers, we often complain that young people are constantly distracted by their screens (let’s be honest, we are too). But it is our responsibility to show them a faith so authentic, captivating and radical that their screens pale in comparison to the joy of Jesus. 

There isn’t a more authentic faith than that of persecuted Christians. When people are willing to be ostracised, abused, imprisoned, tortured and even killed for their love of Jesus, then we know their faith is precious to them. 

Sponsored

Leah’s story is a case in point. She’s a teenager from Nigeria. In March 2018, she was taken from her school along with more 100 other girls by an Islamic extremist group. After a month, the surviving girls were released – all except one: Leah.

Chillingly, Leah was the only Christian among the group of Muslim girls. She was told she could only go free if she converted to Islam. Leah said no. She chose Jesus over her freedom. Courageously, in the face of threats, violence and captivity, she’s sticking with Jesus, knowing that doing so could cost her everything.

Leah sent this message to her mum: My God, whom we have been praying to with you, is showing Himself mighty in my trying moment… I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there with our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Leah’s faith is real. It’s not hipster, buzzword authentic. It’s not served with cold-brewed coffee and carefully staged picture on Instagram. It’s just real. It’s the type of faith that challenges my safe and comfortable walk with Jesus to the very core.

Blackout: seeking authenticity

As young people know all too well, our screens don’t always give us real, authentic connections or experiences. Through social media we see what people want to show us – all filtered, edited and exaggerated. And yet, we spend on average 3.5 hours a day looking at our screens!

The truth is, if we want an authentic, real faith, like Leah’s, we have to put in some time with God, praying, reading His word and living out our faith in community with others. So, why not get your young people to do something utterly counter-cultural and turn off their screens for 48 hours? 

Challenge them to join the Blackout and get sponsored to go screen-free, to stand alongside those who are silenced for following Jesus and be inspired by the authentic and brave faith of young persecuted Christians.

Ellie did Blackout in 2018: I got to spend loads of time with Jesus without an agenda or distractions… It made me sad that spending time with Jesus gets pushed under all the stuff we have to do, so I’m going to try and make more space for that.”

Blackout is a chance to cut through that lens and see a different world – a world where following Jesus takes courage, passion and risk. It’s about switching off to reconnect with the authentic, real story of Jesus and those who are bravely following Him.

Sign up

Join the Blackout on 25 October. Switch off to stand with silenced, persecuted Christians. Get sponsored to stay off your socials, shut down the Switch or Xbox and turn off the TV. Instead, spend time praying for change. Sign up to get a free pack and access to a bunch of leader downloads at open​doorsy​outh​.org/​b​l​a​ckout

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev

About the author

Naomi Allen leads the youth team at Open Doors UK and Ireland. Its aim is to use stories from the persecuted church to resource, challenge and inspire young people to follow Jesus wherever He leads, whatever the cost.

Naomi has been working with young people for over a decade; she loves seeing young people grow in faith and confidence in becoming who God’s calling them to be.

When not at a youth festival or event, you can find her in IKEA drinking the free coffee.

See more from Naomi Allen

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