A 17 year old, beheaded as he got ready for school.
A grenade thrown into a home, killing an 8 year old and 25 year old, injuring others. A man, beaten and left to die.
Soldiers, targeting civilians with gunfire.
|Light shines in darkness|
The persecuted Church.
Of the stories I mentioned above, I can only relate to the threat of deportation. Even so, I never feared for my life or the lives of those I love. It's easy to forget about the suffering and persecution of the rest of the Church when I don't live in the daily reality of active, blatant hatred. However.
Suffering comes in myriad forms. Persecution does not require a threat on your life. Even though I live in the land of the free, this country is still of the world. And the world does not know Christ.
As Sunday was the International Day of Prayer, my church tried something a little different than normal. The sanctuary was rearranged so that all the chairs faced the middle of the room, where there was a low, square platform. Other than the mic for the pastor, no electric equipment was used. As much as possible, they wanted to us to experience worship held in a living room, or open space--a house church. And the pastor spoke on these three verses:
Keep on loving each other as brothers.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
In the midst of suffering, keep on loving each other. Show hospitality. Remember AS IF.
|"The Light shines in the darkness, and |
the darkness has not overcome it."
How differently I pray when I am suffering than when I am not. I cry out with a broken heart, yearning for God's hand. Not knowing what to say, but knowing that the Spirit communicates that which I can find no words for. Have I prayed with this heart and with this earnestness for my brothers and sisters whom, although I've never met them, are as much my family as my blood brother? Though I have not known the confines of a prison cell or the ravages of a broken body, I am not helpless. Though I am not there suffering with them, why should that stop me from praying for my brothers and sisters as though I were? There is power in prayer.
So I pray, that this will alter your perspective as it did mine. That your prayers will be lifted up on behalf of your brothers and sisters as if you were sitting right beside them in their battle and oppression.
I don't want to leave you in despair about this, but to praise God and know that He is working in the midst of intense pain, suffering and persecution. Here is one more story.
A pastor. Incarcerated unjustly. By the power of God and support of prayer, built up a church within the walls of a prison.
Here are a couple resources that highlight the persecuted Church so that we can know what to pray for and how to pray. If you know of other resources, please, share them below.