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.