How God Turns Persecution Into Platforms

How God Turns Persecution Into Platforms

As we see in Scripture and in history, what people or even the devil intend for evil, God can turn for good.

That’s because He is a redeemer, turning persecution into platforms.

That’s what happened to the Puritan preacher John Bunyan (1628-1688), sentenced to prison for refusing to go along with the restrictive church edicts of his day. But there in jail, separated from his family, living in miserable conditions, he had free time on his hands.

There were no sermons to preach, no pastoral responsibilities to fulfill, no congregants to visit. So he wrote, giving birth to one of the bestselling, most beloved books of all time, Pilgrim’s Progress. Without his imprisonment, that book may never have seen the light of day.

In our time, Jordan Peterson went from being a respected but little-known psychology professor at the University of Toronto to “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now.”

His first book, “Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief,” which took him thirteen years to write and was published in 1999, was a light-selling 564-page academic tome. His second book, “12 Rules for Life,” has sold “over five million copies worldwide and his global book tour has reached more than 250,000 people in 100 different cities.”

How did this come about?

In 2016, when the government proposed amending the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code “to introduce ‘gender identity and expression’ as a prohibited grounds of discrimination,” Peterson put out a series of videos criticizing the proposal. Having been a communist as a young man and having studied it in the subsequent decades, he adamantly opposed government-enforced speech, especially under the supervision of the leftist thought police.

When interviewed about this on TV, Dr. Peterson described how he would respond if he was called before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal: “If they fine me I won’t pay it. If they put me in jail I’ll go on a hunger strike. I’m not doing this. And that’s that. I’m not using the words that other people require me to use, especially if they’re made up by radical leftwing ideologues.”

Society wanted to shame him and silence him, and his own university refused to support him. But he refused to back down. Peterson was about to be cancelled. Instead, he became an overnight sensation.

His YouTube channel now has 5.4 million subscribers, and he has 2.8 million followers on Twitter. Rather than being silenced, Dr. Peterson’s voice has been amplified to reach multiplied millions around the globe. 

This is an amazing example of what can happen when you make a principled decision not to cave in. 

I can also share a personal anecdote here, though on a much smaller scale.

In May of 2018, my ministry released a 6-minute video lecture titled, “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” 

The video was produced on the pattern of the famous PragerU videos, and as soon as it was released, we began to promote it on YouTube. 

But our advertising budget was only a few thousand dollars, so we carefully targeted our audience, namely, Christian conservatives and Bible believers who wanted to know what the Scripture said about homosexuality. As a result, and working with an employee at Google Ads, my producer chose words like Bible, Christian, homosexuality and gay in order to draw viewers to our video.

What happened next was completely unexpected.

As the video began to attract tens of thousands of viewers, along with a wide range of passionate comments, it also attracted the attention of major gay and transgender channels on YouTube. That’s because our video began to play on those channels as paid advertising, meaning, if you wanted to see how Charlie’s sex-change transition was going, I would appear on the screen first, asking, “Can you be gay and Christian?” (This was not our target audience, but it is what happened.)

This created an immediate Internet firestorm, as different YouTube presenters, some of them with millions of subscribers, began to show clips of our video with their commentary added to it.

The story got so big that it was reported on major gay and transgender websites, almost all of which featured a picture of our video with a link to it. Not only so, but the story was also covered by Forbes and Business Insider and the Independent (UK). That’s how much controversy the video stirred up. 

After reactions began to snowball, YouTube and Google published formal apologies, saying that some videos had inappropriately run as ads on a number of channels. 

We even got information from a Google employee who told us what happened on the inside.

When our video came out in May 2018, just before gay pride month (though that was not a part of any strategy), many employees were highly offended, especially because we were allowed to pay for advertising on YouTube. They began to write emails in protest, and those emails made their way to a Google vice president. He watched the video for himself and decided it was not suitable for advertising.

Thankfully, the video was not banned by YouTube, although it was demonetized, meaning that even if it is viewed 10 million times, our ministry does not receive a dime from it. But we are not in this for the money. We are in this to get a message out. 

As of this writing, the video has been viewed more than 203,000 times on our YouTube channel, with over 4,300 comments and more than 7,300 thumbs up. (This does not include the hundreds of comments we had to delete because of violations of our own guidelines.)

More significantly, clips of the video have been played more than 35 million times on various LGBT channels on YouTube as the hosts attacked and criticized the video. But that means the message got out to people who needed to hear it, even if it was presented in the worst possible way. The truth was being proclaimed.

Honestly, if we had 10 times the advertising budget that we had, we could not have received this amount of exposure, especially in these kinds of circles. And so, the video got to people we could not have reached otherwise, and it was largely because some critics were determined to silence us.

You never know how God will turn things around!

For more examples, check out my new book The Silencing of the Lambs: The Ominous Rise of Cancel Culture and How We Can Turn the Tide.

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries and is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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