Today I went to church. I walked from my car in a public parking lot with my Bible in my hand and never once felt afraid. Entering the foyer of my church, I visited with fellow worshipers in front of large windows without once looking to see if anyone was watching us. When it was time for the service to start I joined with others as we sang loudly and our musicians played loudly without worrying that someone might hear us and report us to the police. My pastor stood up and gave a sermon reading from the Bible without any fear of being dragged out of the church and off to jail.
For me the worst persecution I might face because of my beliefs is hearing some comedian make fun of Christians. But I really know nothing about real persecution
Today was the National Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I wonder how many churches actually took time to pray for their brothers and sisters who face real difficulties because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
The book of 1 Corinthians compared the church to a body. In that chapter it states:
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…”
One group who documents persecution in other countries has listed North Korea as the country with the worst persecution of Christians. To be a Christian in North Korea is to be seen as an enemy of the state. If someone is found to be a Christian they are treated as a criminal and sent to labor camps or even killed. Their family also faces harsh treatment. They cannot meet openly and it is very dangerous for them to gather in more than groups of two or three. Because being a Christian is so dangerous, it is even hard to know if someone you meet is also a believer as everyone has to remain secretive about their faith.
In Afghanistan no expression of faith except Islam is permitted. To become a Christian is seen as betrayal of the family, the tribe and country. Anyone who becomes a Christian is exposing themselves to death even by the hands of their own family. They are considered to have brought shame on the family and the family honor must be protected at any cost.
In India it is the radical Hindu nationalists who view Christianity as alien to their way of life. Christians are often physically attacked and churches burned or bombed.
In Myanmar persecution of Christians (and other ethnic minorities) is backed by the army which leans toward Communism. More than 100,000 Christians live in camps for displaced persons, deprived of access to food and health care. Buddhist monks have taken over churches and made shrines to Buddha on the church property.
These are only a few of the places where the body of Christ is suffering. The causes range from corrupt government to the various other religions of the world.
But today as fellow Christians are suffering, I have to ask myself if the body of Christians in America share in any way in their suffering. Where are the prayers? Where is the concern?
I believe a large part of the problem is we simply do not know how we can help. Here are a few suggestions:
- Become informed. There are several organizations that can help you gain more understanding of the persecution taking place around the world.
- Pray. We often under estimate the power of prayer.
- Write letters to those who are in prison. Many who have been released from prison have testified how much getting letters meant to them, giving them courage to endure.
- Become a spokesman for helping the persecuted church.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
Here are a few organizations that work with the persecuted church. Check them out and learn what you can do to help.
- OpenDoors: One of the most well-known ministries advocating for the persecuted church. (Write, Pray, Donate, Advocate, Learn)
- Voice of the Martyrs: Another well-known ministry that raises awareness and provides support for the persecuted church. (Write, Pray, Donate, Advocate, Learn)
- Samaritan’s Purse: Their ministry focuses on providing physical and spiritual aid to people around the world. They also provide opportunities to donate to the persecuted church. (Donate)
- PrisonAlert: Prison Alert is part of Voice of the Martyrs. (Advocate, Write, Donate, Pray)
- Be-a-Voice: Part of Voice of the Martyrs as well. It focuses on providing prayer points and writing letters to the persecuted church. (Pray, Write)
- icommittopray.com (Pray)
Part of the body of Christ is suffering? How does it effect you? Are you suffering with them?