Answer: In the same way pizza is very common in the United States, persecution is very common in other parts of the world.
Imagine that you live in a country where being a Christian is dangerous. Imagine your neighbors, friends or family members turning against you because you have accepted Jesus as your Lord. This happened to a college student in Kyrgyzstan She was brutally beaten by her brothers and sister. They had invited her over for a visit with the intention of forcing her to renounce her faith.
Jesus said that believers would be persecuted just as He was but what would you do in the face of persecution? Would you be able to stand strong, no matter what the cost? Would you be steadfast like Daniel and his three friends or would you be discouraged like the prophet Jeremiah? What about the families of those who are persecuted and martyred for their faith? Just recently I read an article of an Ugandan woman who was killed for her faith. Her attackers had gone to the house looking for her husband and when they saw that he wasn’t there, they seized her. She and her husband had eight children. A month ago, her husband’s brother was murdered for his faith. Her 13 year old daughter witnessed her mother screaming and crying for help as she was dragged out of the house. She was hacked to death by her Muslim attackers because she had converted to Christianity. Before they seized her, they said, “Your husband has followed the religion of his brother, and we had warned you people to stop these activities, but our message has landed on deaf ears.”
Can you imagine seeing your mother being brutally attacked and your father coming home to find her lying in a pool of blood? How hard it must be for the families of those who are killed for their faith. This woman’s husband remains steadfast in his faith, trusting God to protect him and his children. His prayer is, “May God give me the courage to continue sharing the love of Christ to those who are lost, as Jesus said we should love our enemies.” Let us pray for this father who will not let anything or anyone hinder him from sharing the Gospel to the lost. May we ask God to put a hedge around him and his children.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter – 1 Peter 4:16
In North America Christians are still free to worship and share their faith. People can freely approach us and ask us questions and we can talk them, give them literature to read and not have to worry about being thrown into jail, on charges that we are evangelizing people or drawing them away from their faith. It has been two years since Pastor Saeed Abedini was imprisoned for his Christian faith and for charges levelled against him for evangelizing and attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam. We can accept or raise funds for church ministry without fear of being imprisoned unlike Pastor Tandin Wangyal.
Many persecuted Christians often feel isolated and alone, since they are unable to fellowship with other believers. However, prayers from Christians half a world away have brought the same amount of encouragement that fellowship would have for these persecuted Christians. Prayer is vital—not only as a direct line to God, but as a way to encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world – Open Doors
Jesus warns us that we will face persecution, imprisonment, tribulation and even death for His sake. When we take up the cross and follow Him, we can expect to go through hardship and suffering but there is a crown laid up for us. And we have this promise, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
On November 1 and 8 or on any Sunday in November, join Christians across the nation in lifting up our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for their faith. Stand with them. Let them know that they are not alone. Prayer is a powerful tool. Prayer works! I was encouraged when I read how prayers for Yana (not her real name) of South Asia. She was detained by police on false accusations of not repaying her debt to her relative. Last month, Open Doors sent out a prayer request for Yana’s release. God heard and answered the prayers. On October 11, Yana was released. Continue to pray for Yana who wants to start a business near her children’s dormitory. Pray that she continues to remain steadfast in her faith and to trust in the God who is faithful.
There is nothing more encouraging for Christians than knowing that their brethren are praying for them. Gospel for Asia has provided a prayer request list. As you pray over this list, remember that “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, Complete Jewish Bible).
- Perseverance and boldness for our fellow believers around the world
- For the persecutors’ hearts to be softened by Christ’s love
- For the Western Church to actively intercede on behalf of the persecuted church
O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come – Psalm 65:2