The View From Here

Voice of the Martyrs Conference Report

Last week, I attended the Voice of the Martyrs’ conference.  I was glued to my seat, my heart gripped, as I heard from those who are being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. A man, from Syria, told of entire churches led by the Spirit to remain in war zones to share Christ with the lost.  Sarah Liu, a young Chinese woman, was imprisoned and tortured, for telling others about Jesus.  How do I respond to these stories?  What can I do?  Keep reading to learn about some practical and powerful things to do.

Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily” (HCSB).  The Bible also teaches that if one part of the body of Christ suffers, every part suffers with it (1 Cor. 12:26).  We are called to enter into this suffering with them. 

First, pay attention to what is happening to Christians around the world.  The assault on the church of Jesus Christ is at an all-time high.  When it is on the news, don’t change the channel or skip the headline.  Click on the headline and read the whole story.  Understand that the story is about steadfast faith—focus on this.  Suffering for Christ glorifies Christ.  When we worship Jesus, we don’t seek to forget or minimize the brutality of the cross or the cost Jesus paid.  When our brothers and sisters suffer and die, they point to Jesus.  So, don’t avoid their story.  Sit up and pay attention to the message they die to convey.

Second, pray for persecuted believers around the world.  Everyday should be a day of prayer, but the next two Sundays, November 1st and 8th, are designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).  This news of persecution, especially when it involves children, weighs heavily on my heart.  But at the VOM conference, I learned “it is good that we have a heaviness in our hearts about our brothers and sisters, so we pray.”  In his report from Syria, “Brother John” a Syrian pastor, said, “The foundation of Islam is collapsing and Jesus is walking into the hearts of people.”  He continued, “We don’t pray, ‘stop this war,’ rather, ‘Lord, use this time.’”  Pray for them.  “One day they will pray for you when your need comes.”

Third, participate.  We fulfill the call of Hebrews 13:3 and 1 Corinthians 12:26  by paying attention to what the believers around the world are going through, telling their stories and by praying for them.  Ministries like Voice of the Martyrs enable us to participate in the spread of the Gospel and in helping those who have lost homes, bread-winners and children.  For example, not long ago you heard of 21 Egyptian laborers who were beheaded on a beach in Libya.  Each of their last words were, “I love you Jesus.”  Most, if not all these men were from one small village in Egypt.  A 21-year old widow of one of these men said she is honored to give her husband to Jesus in this way.  These families—parents, widows, children—of the 21 martyrs will be receiving letters, words of encouragement and Bible verses from believers on November 1st.  You can participate in this work of encouragement by going to www.21letters.org.  You can leave a note online, and it will be translated into Arabic and given to the families. 

There are other ways to participate:

  • Sign up for VOM’s newsletter at www.persecution.com to stay informed about persecuted believers.
  • Sign up to receive weekly prayer requests for the persecuted at www.icommittopray.com.
  • Write letters to believers imprisoned for their faith in Christ.  Find addresses at www.prisoneralert.com.  By doing this, you keep the body of Christ connected, and remind those in chains that they are loved and not forgotten.
  • Persecuted believers want two thing most of all: prayer and Bibles.  You can send Bibles by going to www.biblesunbound.com.
  • Educate your kids about how to pray for and serve persecuted believers, many of whom are kids, with age-appropriate resources at www.kidsofcourage.com.

              Be a voice for those who have been silenced.  You can write letters to the embassies and consulates of the countries that imprison and persecute Christians.

 

Posted by Joshua Holland with

Getting bored?

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The world we live in is driven by the next best thing. “New” is normal.  “Different” is interesting.  Change is expected.  We change the channel before the show is done or click on a link before finishing this blog. If the visuals aren’t “just so,” we get bored.  If the music isn’t “my thing,” we tune out. Waiting for anything is a travesty.

In this ever-changing life, are you still fascinated by the never-changing Jesus?

First, know this: God is very interested in you.  He is never bored with you, tired of you nor does he turn his back on you.  In fact, God is very interested in what you are going through what is on your mind. He cares for you (1 Pet. 1:7).  And even if you mess up, the good news is this, “your sins have been forgiven” and you have an Advocate, Jesus, who speaks to God on your behalf (1 John 2:1; 12). 

Second, know this, God is never far from you.  Agree with Psalm 73:23 and declare that God holds your right hand.  This means he is holding you, even when you feel mixed up and distracted.  You might have lost your “passion for Christ,” but he is still with you.  Have faith that you are continually with God, because he never leaves or forsakes you (Heb. 13:5).

Finally, do this, consider what takes up your time.  What determines your priorities? Money? Entertainment? Tyranny of the Urgent? Personal ambition?  Perfectionism? Idealism? Materialism? Envy? Hobbies? Self? Family? If spending time with Jesus is not the deciding factor for you and your family, then the biblical word for you right now is “repent.”  I don’t have a formula for you, or a system.  All I can say is “turn” your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 Ps. 73:21-26

Posted by Joshua Holland with

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