“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.” Hebrews 13:3
The horrific shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on November 5 shocked our nation. The attack on a place of worship seemed especially insidious in the midst of almost continuous violence taking place through mass shootings. Please keep the affected families and their loved ones in your prayers, especially as we near the holiday season.
As horrible and evil as the shooting in Texas was, what if we lived in a country where such attacks on churches were common and even encouraged? What if we lived in a nation that instead of being angered at a church shooting, gave its approval?
Even in the wake of Sutherland Springs, I don’t think many of us gathered in our churches this week with the fear of being killed for worshipping Jesus. However, a majority of our brothers and sisters around the world are threatened with that very thing.
I hesitated to write on this topic for two reasons: it’s an emotionally heavy topic, and the thought of even trying to assist our persecuted brothers and sisters feels overwhelming to me. But I decided to put pen to paper on this topic anyway because Jesus cares deeply about His persecuted church. Also, the church in North America needs to be more aware of our global suffering family.
As millennials, we live in a culture that loves social justice causes. That’s great, but I can’t help but notice no one is carrying the banner for persecuted Christians, the most persecuted religion in the world right now.
This is our family.
So what can we do? I’m so glad you asked.
Learn About Them
A starting point is to learn about the persecuted church. I realize that most of us don’t have the time to do in-depth research about such a vast topic. There are other ways we can stay connected to updates about our brothers and sisters. Following ministries that serve the persecuted church on social media is a great resource. I follow 8thirty8 on Facebook and get updates on their work as well as links to articles about the persecuted church.
Here are just a few ministries you could check out:
www.persecution.com (Voice of the Martyrs)
These resources contain a wealth of information about the successes and struggles our persecuted family faces, which leads us to our next point …
Pray, Pray, Pray
I admit that I forget how crucial it is that I pray for the persecuted church. Most days, I’m more concerned about my personal struggles and needs. I need to learn to incorporate the persecuted church in my daily prayer time. I also forget just how powerful prayer can be in interceding for others, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Here are some prayer points:
Ask for protection from the spiritual forces coming against them.
For a heightened awareness of God’s love and presence during their trials.
Pray for boldness, that their faith would not fail.
Ask for an increase in the kingdom in these areas of spiritual oppression.
Pray for the leaders and pastors of the persecuted church and for those who are persecuting, that they would come to know Jesus.
There are so many ways we can show our support and love for the persecuted church. Two years ago my church’s youth pastor let me write and teach a lesson to our high school students on the persecuted church. The best part was having the students write letters to the family of a pastor who was imprisoned in the Middle East. Something as simple as writing a letter connects us to them by letting them know we stand with them.
You have the chance to do this right now! In the comfort of our homes, we can bless and encourage our brothers and sisters who are suffering for our Savior.
8thirty8 currently has a letter writing campaign for believers in North Korea.
Click here to write a short letter, then ask fellow believers to do the same. Let’s try to do more.