A Christian woman in Laos brings food to her husband twice a week. He is imprisoned for his faith. The prison cannot afford to feed the men every day, so friends and family must supplement with what they have. Five other wives of Christians in that prison have asked her to bring food to their husbands also. None of them live as close as she does. When asked if she needs anything, she only mentions prayer.
Not surprisingly, many who suffer injustice for their faith in Christ repeat this woman’s need for prayer. It is a calling for us all to pause throughout our day and petition God for His blessings on the down and outers.
As Americans, we have the privilege of living where we can practice our faith with little hindrance. We are free to pray together and move mountains for Christ’s persecuted. Not everyone believes in freedom. Christ-followers around the globe suffer the realities of torture, mutilation, family divisions, harassment, imprisonment, slavery, and even death for what they believe.
According to the U. S. State Department, Christians in over 60 countries face these trials. It is estimated that the 20th century has seen more martyrs than the prior 1900 years combined. Paul Marshall, author of the book, "Their Blood Cries Out", says, “This plague affects two hundred million people, with an additional four hundred million suffering from discrimination and legal impediments”. This amounts to a group of people larger than the population of the United States. Therefore, we should be more concerned than ever for those who suffer terror on a daily basis. Being aware of the struggles of our persecuted bothers and sisters around the world is not enough. They need action; the kind that begins on our knees.
These people are special witnesses to the world for Christ. They are blessed with God’s strength and love. Yet, we must remember not to romanticize their plight and somehow neglect the horror of their situations. They live on a narrow path between hating the crimes used against them, and (as God commands) loving those who commit them. Their suffering should remind us that we could learn from their strong faith, but also that they need our help.
First, we should pray. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. To help you focus your prayers on the persecuted, I recommend you read the book, "Jesus Freaks", by DC Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs. It is eye-opener.
Secondly, we should seek ways to creatively support missions. Send cards and letters to those who minister to these people. Or, find a missionary organization that deals with oppressed peoples and ask them how you can help.
Next, we should urge our government to do what it can to help these nations see the futility in crushing the very people who are their model citizens. Many of the persecuted suffer without protest and abide by the laws of the land.
We have much to learn from the example of the persecuted. Their unifying mark is their Christ-centeredness. They ask for little and expect miracles. They see their plight as a blessing God has granted them to witness for Jesus. This they do with love and compassion, not only for fellow believers, but also for their tormentors. I pray that I would do the same.
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Well written, Daniel. You've told it like it is. To me this article shows how different our coffee-and-cakes Christianity of the western world is in comparison. It is a warning that if we are ever persecuted we must be prepared.