Sunday, November 12, 2006

Forgetting is Not an Option

More than 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith since 33 AD. But that suffering isn’t just something that used to happen a long time ago. This year an estimated 160,000 believers will die at the hands of their oppressors. Over 200 million Christians around the world will be persecuted, arrested, tortured, beaten or jailed. In many nations today it is illegal to own a Bible, share your faith, change your faith or allow children under 18 to attend a religious service.

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church—a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith, as well as prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it. It’s an opportunity for us to join with Christians all over the world in praying for the suffering members of the body of Christ.
"We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray." (PersecutedChurch.org)
Many times in the past, I have read books or articles about the persecuted church or heard speakers that inspire me to care for my persecuted brothers and sisters, and I am challenged and motivated to pray for them, to do something. But unfortunately it’s all too easy for me to gradually slip back into my comfortable life and not give any thought to the trials that the persecuted church faces.

One reason I’m sharing with you today is because forgetting is not an option. God commands us in Hebrews 13:3—“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” So I’m taking this opportunity to remind myself of what Christians across the world face—and to challenge myself, and you, to care. To get involved. To obey God’s command to remember them because we also are in the body with them.

Through organizations like The Voice of the Martyrs, there are lots of ways you can get involved:
Most importantly, we need to pray for our brothers and sisters. By themselves, our efforts are small—but infused with God’s Spirit, they have the power to change lives for eternity! We can make a difference in the lives of persecuted Christians around the world because we have the privilege of interceding for them before the throne of our sovereign and loving Father.

Let’s remember those who are suffering for Christ and join with them in such a way that one day, the King will say to us, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me. …as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”

3 comments:

Kat Coble said...

I wish we had known about this in Sunday School today.

Danielle said...

We prayed for those persecuted today as a church. Thanks for these useful links, though! I'll have to check them out.

Eric M Schumacher said...

Thanks for helping others remember!