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How To Deal With Religious Persecution From Your Family

Different religious beliefs can create problems in family. A young Christian wants to know how to cope with conflict within her interfaith family.


How to Deal With Different Religious Beliefs In Your Family

Brother Donald Pinnock: What happens when the people closest to you—primarily, your family members—are of a different faith? Or worse, what if they don’t understand or support what is very important to you? Today, I’m talking to Mariela, a young woman who lives here in Toronto, Canada. She grew up in a Pentacostal family. But recently, she made a huge life decision and left the church she grew up in, in order to become a member of the Church Of Christ.

There are over 4,000 different religions and churches in the world today.  

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There are some 4,300 religions of the world. 

Brother Donald: And many people are growing up in multi-faith families, 

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1 in 10 Americans say they were raised in more than one religion.

Brother Donald: …while at the same time, more and more people are becoming part of the “nones” – those who are religiously unaffiliated.

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(the) “nones” (are) now estimated at 32.1 percent of the  population. 

Brother Donald: So, it’s very common to hear people who have different beliefs and practices and they are all within a family unit.

Now, Mariela’s here today to talk about how her faith is affecting her relationship with her family but is also teaching her some very valuable lessons.

So, join us in our conversation and let us look for the solution together.

[Show Open]

Brother Donald : Hi, Sister Mariela.

Mariela Navarrete: Hello.

Brother Donald: It’s really, really good to have you on the program today. So, you grew up here in the Toronto area, you went through all grades and levels of school?

Mariela: Yeah—

Brother: I see. Do you have a career goal at all? 

Mariela: I know I want to work with kids. Yeah, I really love kids. So, I want to go towards maybe social work or kindergarten teacher – something like that.

Brother Donald: Ok, nice. So, Sister Mariela, why are you here today? What are you facing or going through?

Mariela: I think one big challenge that I’m facing right now is that I’m being persecuted by my parents and family members.

Brother Donald: Why is that?

Mariela: Well, when I first started coming to the Church, my mom was fine with me being into a church. She thought it was really good for me as a person. I started going to church when I was 12 with my aunt. 

Brother Donald: What kind of church or religion did you attend at that time?

Mariela: They’re  Pentacostal. 

Brother Donald: Pentacostal…

Mariela: Yeah. So, I would go with my family. And then once I found the Church Of Christ, that’s when I started attending church more at Church Of Christ, then becoming more active than in my other church.  My mom, she didn’t really like it, saying that it took up a lot of my time, even though it was ok to—because it was church and I really enjoyed it.

Brother Donald: Well, you know, Mariela, the author of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, He faced His own fair share of persecution. And in fact, He even forewarned, when it came to those who would become members of His Church, that they would also experience persecution themselves. 

Let’s read here in John 15 and the verse is 20:

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.

[John 15:20 New King James Version]

Brother Donald: Please notice our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us that we, those who are members of His Church, are not greater than our master. And the master being referred to here is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.  What is it that our Lord Jesus Christ experienced when He was here on earth. Please notice he says, “If they persecuted me,” 

Mariela: Yeah

Brother Donald: – so because our Lord Jesus Christ was persecuted—in fact, He was persecuted to the point of death, as you know—what will happen to those who are members of His Church? He says, “they will also persecute you.”

So, you are not alone, Sister Mariela. You’re not alone. There are many who have experienced persecution.

Mariela: Brother Donald, were you ever persecuted? 

Brother Donald: When I became a member of the Church I was persecuted. Because my mother, believe or not, she was Pentacostal, but when I became a member of this Church, the Church Of Christ, my mother was very much displeased.  She said things negatively about the Church even though she didn’t know about it. But just the fact that it was, in her terms, “changing religion” to something that was foreign to her, well, because of that she was persecuting me in many ways.

Mariela: So, I just have a lot of friends that they’re parents who are trying to force them to church and attend worship services; but for me, my problem is not being able to attend because my mother’s against it. So—it broke my heart because church was just like my safe place. It was somewhere where I can connect with God; talk to Him when I needed Him the most. But knowing that my mother refused to let me have that comfort really just hurt me.

Brother Donald: If we experience that kind of persecution, Mariela, what is it that our Lord Jesus Christ expects? Let’s read in verse 37:

 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

[Matthew 10:37 New King James Version]

Brother Donald: So, yes, you love your mom, but when it comes to that love – by itself – will not lead a person to salvation. That’s why our Lord Jesus Christ says we should love Him more; in fact, we should love the Lord, our God—more than our mother, more than our father, more than our siblings—because love for God and our Lord Jesus Christ will lead us to salvation. There are teachings in the Holy Bible that state that we should obey our parents as in the Lord. So, as long as our parents tell us something, we should do it, as long as it does not violate the will of God.

So, there are times that your mom said negative things about the Church?

Mariela: Yes, very negative things.

Brother Donald: In truth, when it comes to the reproach that some members of the Church experience, again, the Bible hints on the reason why that will happen. We can read here in I Peter 4 and the verses are 14 and 16:

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.

[I Peter 4:14-16  Revised Standard Version]

Brother Donald: Please notice that if we are reproached, if we’re being rebuked, if they say nasty things about the Church, the Bible reminds us that we are still blessed. Why? Because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. So, for us – the chosen of our Lord Jesus Christ and those who have been called by God inside the Church – we know that we have that spirit. That spirit testifies that we truly belong to God. No matter what you encounter, Sis Mariela, you should never be ashamed of being a member of the Church Of Christ.

Mariela:  Personally, in my head, how I think of it. I choose to believe in this. I believe that this is the true Church, that this is the true God. And I have the choice to either continue on with my faith or turn away. So, Brother Donald, you also said that you were persecuted by your mother – I’m wondering how did you get along with your mother after that?

Brother Donald: Just like you, the very beginning, it was really tough. For her, it was something extremely foreign, extremely alien for her, and—I suppose it was out of love, too, just like your mom; out of love and concern. But it really was a passage of time and prayer. So, you know I continuously prayed to God because I believed just like you I was entering the true Church. There was no doubt whatsoever. And my life was almost like a rocket—it wasn’t just progressing. It was really elevated. Eventually, she accepted my decision and she herself was just glad that afterwards my life was getting better. I have a vision now. We can never ever overstress how important it is for you to remain steadfast no matter what your mom may say or your friends or other family members because there’s a great promise, of course.

But please allow me to read here in Matthew, the chapter is 5 and the verses are 10 to 12:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

[Matthew 5:10-12 New King James Version]

Brother Donald: Did you notice what our Lord Jesus Christ said blessed are you for righteousness’ sake. And the righteousness being referred to is the gospel. So, even if we are being reviled, even if there are times when we’re being oppressed, even if there are those who are inclined to inhibit our desire to become, and remain as a member of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us great is our reward in heaven and we know that reward is none other than salvation and eternal life.

After having this discussion, Sister Mariela, what is your hope when it comes to your mother and even your other relatives, including your siblings?

Mariela: I think one hope is just she sees how I feel towards the Church and, obviously, towards her and that she can finally come to the Church with an open heart, and just with an open mind, and just see that the Church is not what the internet says. It’s not the negative things that people put out there. And I try to steer her to where everything about the Church… 

Brother Donald: – programming…

Mariela: – yes, all the programs. I show them. There’s even stuff in Spanish for her. So, I’m hoping that she can see that the Church is just filled with people who are active in the Church and who just love God…

Brother Donald: – exactly 

Mariela: …and want to give glory to Him.

Brother Donald: —and that’s the key right there when you say, “love God”. Devoted in serving and worshipping Him. That’s the Iglesia Ni Cristo. That’s the Church Of Christ.

Mariela: Yes

Brother Donald: And of course, you should always pray to God and ask God to move her. And God will touch her heart that she can really understand the reason why—the reason why you’re enduring everything to remain as a member.

Mariela: Thank you, Brother Donald, for giving me this opportunity 

Brother Donald: You’re welcome.

Mariela: – for giving me this peace and hope knowing that one day my mother would understand—not just my mother—but my siblings and my family would understand why I am part of this church. And hopefully, God-willing, that they will also become a member.

Brother Donald: We wish you the very best and we will also pray with you, Sister Mariela— 

Mariela: Thank you.

Brother Donald: —may you be successful when it comes to your endeavours. Thank you so much for being on the program.

Mariela: Thank you for having me.

Brother Donald: Thanks for joining our conversation today on The Solution. I’m Brother Donald Pinnock and we hope to see you very soon.


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How To Deal With Religious Persecution From Your Family