Yesterday was the International Day of Prayer For The Persecuted Church. Instead of freedom from persecution, millions of Christians are asking to remain faithful.
I arrived at church feeling rather tired from a tough week.
Our family has been battling a barrage of colds, and I was feeling under the weather.
As I settled into the Sunday service, singing songs of praise, I prayed, “Thank you, God, for this awesome time to pray and worship.”
Time to stop and gather with other believers is something I look forward to every week. It’s like a reset button. I leave church lighter and more refreshed than when I arrive.
Not so for other Christians around the world.
I have to admit, I’m usually in an oversaturated condition listening to suffering that happens around the world. Many times, I’m walled off by the blinders of my own challenges.
As I sat there quietly asking God to bring me physical relief, a video announcement for the millions of persecuted Christians suffering around the world flashed onto the screen:
Colombia: Pastor Manuel was shot and killed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas in San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia. 9/21/09.
“Make sure that dog stays dead,” referring to the pastor, as they shot him 5 times, in front of his wife, son and daughter.
With the help of her children, his wife dragged his body under a tree. His 10 year old son said, “Mum, don’t worry, dad died for Christ and now he is with Christ.”
Indonesia: Police evict 1,000 Bible students after cutting off water and electricity. 10/27/09.
Iran: Church Closed. The largest public and formal gathering of Iranian Christians in Iran was forced to close by the Iranian Ministry of Information. 10/30/09.
China: Student Expelled. A high school student was expelled after refusing to denounce his Christian faith. 10/30/09.
… The stories of persecution go on…
What did my dear brothers and sisters ask for?
The Most I Can Do
Todd Nettleton, Director of Media Development for The Voice of the Martyrs, tells us,
“Our persecuted family is not asking us to pray that the persecution will stop.
They’re asking us to pray they will remain faithful to Christ in spite of the persecution and pressure they face.”
The phrase “persecuted family” grabbed me.
I felt frustrated, tied up by the demands of the daily grind, but my Christian brothers and sisters were being handcuffed.
I was sleep deprived, trying to fit too much in a day, while pastors are being killed, leaving my sisters widowed and children without fathers.
Overwhelmed, I initially thought, What can someone like me do?
The least I can do — is the most I can do: pray.
Money cannot help. Circumstances cannot be escaped. They have counted the cost.
“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
If I were in their shoes, what would I be praying right now?
The answer came, outlined in 14 Days of Prayer, a pamphlet that Voice of the Matyrs outlined suggesting prayers for individuals, one day at a time.
I left Sunday service, committed to pray for the next fourteen days.
Praying for them inspires me to shift my focus from obsessing over my circumstance to pursuing what counts: staying faithful.
If you feel led, join me in 14 Days of Prayer. Start Praying Today.