In spite of the suffering, the Kwashis endured personally, the couple took in 50 orphans who lost their parents due to violence.

Bishop Benjamin Kwashi
Bishop Benjamin Kwashi

A Christian organisation, 21 Wilberforce, has honoured Benjamin Kwashi, an Anglican Bishop in northern Nigerian, and his wife, for enduring severe persecution in Nigeria.

The couple received the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Award from 21Wilberforce during a September 30 event at Dallas Baptist University.

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The organisation said Kwashi received multiple death threats, his wife endured a savage beating by Islamist militants, and both their home and their church were burned.

“Their life story is one of courage, faith and boundless love,” said Randel Everett, founder and president of 21Wilberforce. 

In spite of the suffering, the Kwashis endured personally, the couple took in 50 orphans who lost their parents due to violence.

He is the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Jos, Nigeria, and General Secretary of GAFCON, the Global Anglican Future Conference.

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While this is an earthly reward, the heavenly reward of enduring trials and persecutions is even greater and deeper.

Persecution and Reward

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. …For your reward is great in heaven” (vv. 11–12).  – Matthew 5:10–12

Our flesh may not like to hear it, but biblical Christianity does not promise to make our lives persecution and suffering free, at least in the short term.

Actually, Jesus tells us that following Him as Lord will bring us many trials and tribulations. This is His point in today’s passage. In concluding the Beatitudes, the Savior declares “blessed” those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Matt. 5:10).

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Jesus does not say if you are persecuted but when . Attacks from unrighteous people are inevitable for the Christian, not mere possibilities. In fact, persecution is such a part and parcel of serving Jesus that we should question our allegiance to Christ if we never face persecution for His sake. Darkness hates the light (John 3:20), and evil men hate those who embody the qualities described in the Beatitudes. How many peacemakers (Matt. 5:9), those who preach the Gospel of peace through Christ, are beaten, jailed, and killed every day? Are there not many who are called “losers” or “behind the times” because in pursuing righteousness (v. 6) they refrain from sexual relations until marriage? Paradoxically, to be the objects of such hatred is not the curse that we might think it to be; it is instead the greatest blessing. As we are oppressed for doing the right thing we are assured that the kingdom of heaven is ours (v. 10).

However, harassment for reasons other than righteousness does not incur God’s blessing. Persecution for righteousness’ sake is not the same as trouble we get for disrespecting unbelievers. We may also have problems if we are less than scrupulous. John Chrysostom, the great fifth-century bishop of Constantinople, warns us not to expect blessing if we “are being reviled for something evil, and what is being said is true” (Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew,15.4).

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Christ tells us we are blessed when we are reviled for His sake in Matthew 5:11, thereby expanding upon the beatitude in verse 10. He draws a parallel between Himself and “righteousness’ sake,” offering the same essential reward to those who are oppressed for doing good and to those who are persecuted for serving Him. Plainly, Jesus is equating Himself with righteousness. To imitate Jesus, therefore, is to practice righteousness (1 Cor. 11:1).

Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

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