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A young man in church Sunday had a black shirt on with a red cross. The words under the cross read, “This Shirt is Illegal in 51 Countries.” The shirt back displayed the verse, Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”

The wearing of the shirt is not necessarily a brave step in America. In Kabul, wearing the cross can bring death. Afghanistan’s constitution guarantees the free exercise of faith. Under Sharia law, the Afghani government arrested Sayed Mussa, 46, nine months ago. He has been beaten and raped in jail and remains under a prospective death sentence. His only crime is that he is a Christian. “U.S. officials have been unable to secure his release. He says he wants to be freed or tried. ‘Staying here,’ he said of jail, ‘is like dying every minute.’”

--The Week, February 18, 2011, p. 9 Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Rodger Russell

Matthew 5:10-12 (KJV) “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

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