By Melissa Wuske
How Christians Respond to Persecution
When believers face opposition for their faith, their responses fall into one of three categories, according to a report called Under Caesar’s Sword. The most common response is one of survival—“going underground, flight, and accommodation to or support for repressive regimes.” This kind of behavior happens 43 percent of the time when evangelicals are persecuted. The goal is to “preserve the life and basic activities of their communities.”
The second kind of response is strategies of association: 38 percent of persecuted evangelicals form “ties with others that strengthen their resilience,” such as forming relationships with leaders of other religious groups. These responses counter the fact that “persecuting regimes and militant groups aim to keep Christian communities disconnected, hidden, and obscure.”
The third kind of response, which happens 19 percent of the time, is confronting persecutors or persecution in general, though “Christian responses to persecution are almost always non-violent and, with very few exceptions, do not involve acts of terrorism.”
“Overall the report finds that Christian response to persecution to embody a creative pragmatism dominated by short-term efforts to provide security, build strength through social ties, and sometimes strategically oppose the persecution levied against them,” researchers said.
Relating to Teens
Teens are stressed. Their parents want to help. So why does communication so often break down?
According to psychologist Sheryl Gonzalez Ziegler, “When teens are overwhelmed, parents may try to connect with their kids’ feelings by drawing on their own childhood experiences. They may say things like, ‘When I was 14, I had a job, and I still did my homework and made time for my friends. I know that you can do this too.’” But teens often don’t relate to the experiences their parents faced. Instead, Ziegler suggests an emotional response such as, “When I was your age, I had difficulty with my friends. I felt confused, and my heart was broken too.”
These responses help teens develop cognitive empathy, a skill that further benefits their relationships with their parents. A study of Dutch teens found that cognitive empathy skills helped them deal with conflict, regulate their emotions, and communicate constructively with their parents.
Surviving Without Oxygen
Researchers recently found that African naked mole rats can survive with very little oxygen. This has led to hope for humans.
When placed in zero oxygen conditions, which can kill a mouse in 45 seconds, the mole rats passed out after 30 seconds, but their hearts continued to beat and they came back to consciousness and resumed normal activities nearly 20 minutes later when exposed to normal air. Researchers found this characteristic of mole rats comes from their ability to use fructose to create energy rather than glucose, which requires oxygen.
“It would be great if we could beef up the fructose pathway in [people who are oxygen deprived after a heart attack or stroke] and extend the amount of time that they have to get to a health care situation,” said Thomas Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Museum of Racial Injustice
In 2018, the Equal Justice Initiative will open a museum called From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. Located on the site of a former slave warehouse in Montgomery, Alabama, the museum will trace the history of racial injustice in the United States.
“We want to create an institution that allows people to experience directly what this history means and what it does,” said Bryan Stevenson, EJI’s Executive Director. “In America, we don’t talk about slavery. We don’t talk about lynching. We don’t talk about segregation. Our silence has left us vulnerable to new forms of bigotry and discrimination that we need to address.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).