We in North America rejoice in the approach of Easter. We have no fear as that wonderful time of year rolls around. Spring weather arrives, sermons focus on the message of Jesus redeeming work for mankind. We anticipate family gatherings, and good food and fellowship. Easter is one of the high times for Christians in the free world!

Our brothers and sisters in Christ in persecuting countries also rejoice, but likewise, realize Christian celebrations bring increased persecution and perchance martyrdom.

The mixed emotions can be strong. Jesus himself felt this way when he made his final trip to Jerusalem. Happiness filled him regarding the opportunity to save mankind, yet the pain and agony that lay before him were troubling! Our brethren in Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, and fifty other major persecuting nations, also feel as Jesus did. Not on the same scale, I am sure, but a similar mix of emotions that we don't experience in North America this time of year.

Do we, with no fear or danger attached to our Easter celebrations, do we miss out on some aspect of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior? Quite possibly we might. That idea sounds like a great sermon - I think I will preach it in March at Faith Church of Grove! Lessons are always learned deeply when pain or trauma are involved. I don't doubt we can go through the Easter season and still not grasp the full horror of sin and the pain it inflicts upon people.

When I read of fellow believers in places like Vietnam being chained to the ground for six months at a time just for loving Jesus I realize how spoiled I am.

My trials and tribulations are minor compared to what most Christians experience worldwide. My understanding of all that Jesus did for me, and does for me, is probably not as profound as a believer who spent a lifetime pastoring a secret church in a prison in China.

Let us approach this Easter season with eyes that see and ears that hear, and a heart of appreciation for our Lord Jesus and his role in the Father's plan for humankind! God bless you!

Kim Wenzel is a local Open Doors USA ministry representative who speaks in churches and groups about praying for the persecuted church. For more information, persons interested may contact Wenzel at pastorkimwenzel@gmail.com or 918-919-1490. Hear more about the persecuted church at 6 p.m., every Saturday on KWXC 88.9 FM Christian talk radio.