Praying for the Persecuted Church
"What comes to mind when you think of persecution? Hardship? Pain? Torture? Oppression?
Certainly, all these things are true.
But did you know that persecution could be counted as a privilege?
Though troubles surround them, peace is deep in their hearts."
~ Carl Moeller ~
Persecution/Martyrdom is documented as far back as Genesis 4:8 when Cain kills his brother Abel. Jesus clearly saw Abel's death as an act of martyrdom (Matthew 23:35), as does the Apostle John (1 John 3:12 – 13). Since the death and resurrection of Christ 2000 years ago, Millions of Christians have become martyrs.
And so it will be till the end of times. Augustine once said: ‘And Jesus forewarned his followers: “Your lot won’t be any better than that of your master” (Matt. 10:25).
International Statistics show that an estimated 150 000 Christians are martyred every year. More than 200 million Christians are restricted from living out their Christianity. Christians in more than 65 countries suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis. According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions.
But at the same time, the message of forgiveness, faith, and boldness is spread far and wide: As the brother of a Coptic Christian slain by ISIS said: “Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us."
As Polycarp, the Christian Bishop of Smyrna was led into the arena to be killed, he was heard to pray: “Lord God, Father of our blessed Saviour, I thank Thee that I have been deemed worthy to receive the crown of martyrdom and that I may die for Thee and Thy cause.”
These days we are hearing reports and witnessing great violence and terror against Christians in the Middle East, Africa and Asia at the hands of extremely militant religious groups. Millions of people have been forced into being refugees with little or no hope.
Our hearts are saddened by the stories we hear, and many of us ask, “What can we possibly do for our Brothers and Sisters?”
And the answer always remains the same:
"PRAY FOR US!"
“Ruth and I have seldom encountered a mature believer living in persecution who asked us to pray that their persecution would cease. We have never heard that request. Rather, believers in persecution ask us to pray that “they would be faithful and obedient through their persecution and suffering.” That is a radically different prayer!
Why is it that millions of the global followers of Jesus who actively practice their faith live in environments where persecution is the norm? The first and most basic answer is that these people have given their lives to Jesus. The second answer is that they have determined in their hearts that they will not keep Jesus to themselves. Having found faith in Christ, they have such a passion for Jesus that they must share the Good News of His sacrificial love and forgiveness with their families, their friends, and their neighbors. By doing that, these believers are choosing to be persecuted.”
Extract from: The Insanity of God – Nik Ripken