We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, He does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best! -2 Corinthians 4, (The Message)
Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Christians all over the world are being persecuted and martyred for their faith, in places as far away as China and as close by as Mexico. This day (and this subject) is often ignored by the USAmerican church. There are a number of reasons for this. The subject of persecution is often sidelined because it is not "seeker-friendly." The trouble with that strategy is "...everyone who wants to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..." (2 Timothy 3:12). This scripture should give real pause to those of us who have no idea what it feels like to be persecuted for our beliefs. Our brothers and sisters in Christ will meet in secret this Sabbath with the real possibly of being arrested or worse. Many of us will complain if we have to walk too far from the parking lot. We just don't understand what life is like for many Christians around the world. Hear this prayer request for Christians in war-torn Syria, taken from the Voice of the Martyrs website:
“This war is like a knife in the heart of the church. No human can stand that suffering. But there is God’s presence. I can see Christ in the midst of darkness,” said a VOM national contact from Syria. The ongoing war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, both Muslim and Christian. More than 2 million Syrians have fled seeking refuge in other countries. Through the boldness of Christian workers who have been providing medical supplies as well as Bibles, transformation is being seen. Once referred to as “infidels,” these Christians are now being affectionately called, “the Bible people.” The fruit of their loving actions is becoming apparent in the way that Muslims have responded to the message of God’s love. Our Syrian contact tells us, “Today in Syria, I’m not talking about one person. We’re talking about hundreds and even thousands of Muslims coming to know Christ.”
So today - and every day- pray for those Christians around the world who worship under the shadow of persecution, imprisonment and even death. They will be praying for you...
Because of Jesus,