The following is a post written by my husband, Max.
Sunday November 2, 2014 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
What is Christian Persecution?
This topic may feel distant to many of us Western Christians. In 2013, I first got an understanding of what Christian persecution was when I read the book Tortured for Christ authored by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs Ministry. If you are interested in receiving a complimentary copy of this book, you can get more information here. Richard Wurmbrand showed radical obedience to the Gospel in Romania despite the horrific persecution and torture that he both experienced and witnessed while spending more than ten years in prison. His life is a beautiful testimony of the Gospel and what it means to love.
The definition of Christian persecution from about.com is:
Persecution is the act of harassing, oppressing, or killing people because of their difference from society. Christians are persecuted because their belief in Jesus Christ as Savior does not conform to the godlessness of a sinful world.”
Christians around the world are persecuted every day. According an article on Christianity Today, some 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith since AD 22. “Is there a global war on Christians?” Michael Austin asks. “That question is asked in this issue and judging from the number of deaths and torture in recent years, my conclusion is, yes – and the casualties are staggering. […] Sadly, the names of Christ’s heroes and their inspired stories go largely unspoken today and their cause goes unreported in the popular press.” Voice of the Martyrs’s Rou Stults adds that there is not enough awareness in the Western Church: “Many Christians in the West either deny or are ignorant of it, but persecution is part of present reality.”
Why are Christians facing persecution?
They are suffering persecution and dying for living lives that honor Jesus and being a witness to the Gospel, as we were commissioned by Jesus:
He (Jesus) told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. 19 Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Spiritual warfare is active and real – and it is warring against Jesus’ Great Commission. We must remember this is a spiritual war and continue to love all, including those who persecute Christians.
For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.” – Ephesians 6:12
How should Christians respond?
Don’t put your head in the sand. Stand up with your brothers and sisters in Christ that are being persecuted and losing their lives for the Gospel. We can serve them through words of encouragement, prayer, time, and financial support.
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” – Hebrews 13:3
This powerful list of 10 ways to pray for our persecuted family in Christ is from the Voice of the Martyrs Ministry:
- Pray that the persecuted believers will sense God’s presence (Hebrews 13:5)
- Pray that they will feel connected to the greater Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:20, 26)
- Pray that they will experience God’s comfort when their family members are killed, injured or imprisoned for their witness (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
- Pray that they will have more opportunities to share the Gospel (Colossians 4:3)
- Pray for their boldness to make Christ known (Philippians 1:14)
- Pray that they will forgive and love their persecutors (Matthew 5:44)
- Pray that their ministries activities will remain undetected by authorities or others who wish to silence them (Acts 9:25)
- Pray that they will rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41)
- Pray that they will be refreshed through God’s Word and grow in their faith (Ephesians 6:17)
- Pray that they will be strengthened through the prayers of fellow believers (Jude 20-25)
Join with brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for persecuted Christians, and more urgently, for their mission, the spread of the Gospel.
If you need help getting started, I encourage you to start by earnestly and reverently praying. As the introductory video “What can you do in 5 minutes?” shows, a start could be as simple as praying for the persecuted church for 5 minutes once a week. Let us join together in prayer on Sunday, November 2, 2014 and continue thereafter.
Plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers to help you, for the harvest is so plentiful and the workers so few.” – Luke 10:2
- Book: Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
- Simulcast: Open Doors International Day of Prayer Sign up
- PDF: Scriptures Related to Persecution
- PDF: Infographic: Evangelization through martyrdom (AD 22 – 2000)
- Facts about Persecuted Christians
- Open Doors: Take action
- Voice of the Martyrs: Get involved