Perhaps you have seen YouTube or Vice News videos featuring Simon Ostrovsky’s behind the scenes reports of the escalating crisis in eastern Ukraine as well as earlier reports in Crimea. On April 21, at a police checkpoint in Sloviansk, Ostrovsky was detained and held in a squalid holding area for four days, beaten a couple of times, and interrogated by his captors. He has been released now and is seeking press credentials before considering reentering this city in Ukraine that has been the center of gun battles and alleged protestor deaths. While I am unsure of Ostrovsky’s political ideology and he does not appear to have deep religious convictions, I admire his courage and perseverance. He believes in the importance of media rights and the ability to give uncensored reports of happenings there and he is willing to risk and sacrifice on behalf of those convictions. The fact that he wants to remain in Ukraine and report on this ongoing, changing international situation is remarkable, a tribute to his fearlessness.
It is hard for us to imagine today what the early Christians went through to defend something greater even than national freedom and civil rights. Disciples of Christ were persecuted (cf. Acts 8:4; 2 Tim. 3:12; Heb. 10:34; Rev. 2:10) and even killed for serving Him (Acts 7:58-59). Yet, the courage they so often demonstrated in the face of such things is incredible! They sang in prison after being beaten (Acts 16:22ff). They rejoiced after they were flogged, “that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Paul, oft-recipient of physical persecution, wrote the Thessalonians, saying that their persecutions and afflictions were “a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering” (2 Th. 1:5).
The mood and spirit in our country has certainly changed regarding faith in the Christ of the Bible. There could come a day when you and I might have to muster the courage to stand before those with the power to imprison, torture, or even kill us for standing up for Jesus. However, as the world’s mindset encroaches more and more into our lives and culture, we must maintain the courage to stand up for Him even when we must stand for the unpopular and even stand alone while doing it. It takes uncommon courage to remain distinct and loyal to our Lord, no matter what people say and do. Let us learn a lesson from Mr. Ostrovsky. Let us have the courage of our convictions and conquer the fears that might keep us from doing our “job” as Christians!