Have you ever been persecuted for your faith?

Not beaten up or shot, imprisoned and tortured as many believers in Jesus around the world are suffering. But maybe just annoyed, aggravated, irritated, made nervous and hesitant about sharing your faith any further in public?

Whenever you’re in the public eye, small or large public, you make yourself a target. In the late 1980’s, many right-wing pro-life Christian activists worked in the political arena and thus made themselves visible targets. I was one of them.

A United States Congressman from my state was running for re-election. He was a left-wing liberal, pro-abortion and pro-big government, and yet he called himself a Christian. (He wasn’t. No fruit.) He was well funded.

Tim and I supported one of his several opponents, one whose beliefs and stances on the issues were in line with ours. He was not well funded.

A debate was held in the local library meeting room. It had been publicized throughout our multi-county district and was attended by several hundred citizens, plus a few TV and print reporters.

Tim and I arrived early and took seats on the front row nearest the entry. As we were already known in the district for community and political volunteerism, a number of people came over to greet us.

When it came time for comments from the candidates, the US Congressman looked straight at me. He did not call my name, although obviously he knew it. He bluntly called me a Nazi, because I so publicly and vocally disagreed with his position on abortion. Taken aback at how ugly and vicious his words were, I could feel my face turning red.

He went on to recount his voting record, his support of the liberal agenda in Washington, and promised more of the same if re-elected.

Our candidate was an older man, a lanky, “red-neck” farmer, not sophisticated in his appearance or manner, but nevertheless he eloquently stated his belief system, his reasons for running for office, and his positions on the issues that affected our district.

It was quite an educational event. Many of our friends came by afterward to sympathize and commiserate on the verbal attack from the platform. We just thanked them for their attendance and asked them to vote for our candidate.

But, the Congressman won in that election, and the next, and the next. After a while no-one had guts enough to run against him. He became a polished, professional politician, racking up many thousands of left-wing dollars along the way.

Eventually our congressional district was split and my town became part of a new district. Our current Congressman is one with high moral standards and one I am very comfortable supporting.

That wasn’t the only time I faced disagreement on the issues, but it was the first from such a public figure, in such an ugly outburst, in such a public forum. I realized then that when you put your name and your face and your voice and your hands and feet out into the public arena for a cause you believe in, you need moral and spiritual guts. You need a thick skin!

You need to determine how much you’re willing to risk, ahead of time. The only way you can stand up and continue to stand, speak out and continue to speak, is by knowing that the Lord who called you to do this assignment lives inside you where it matters.

When someone who disagrees with you calls you a Nazi, Jesus calls you his beloved.