October 28, 2009
Persecuted, not Abandoned
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor 4:8-9
In the traditional church calendar, "All Saints Day" and "All Souls Day" stand out in the month of November, set apart to remember the saints of the church and the souls of those who departed this world. It is fitting that the modern church has set apart the month of November to remember and pray for the persecuted church, through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).
There are many countries in the world today where Christians are martyred for their faith. The world watched in horror the unbridled violence that was unleashed on Christians in Orissa state, India last year. There are other places in the world, such as North Korea, where acts of persecution take place, but we often don’t see or hear the full story. Brother Andrew of Open Doors once said, “Our heroes are not with us simply because they are in prison."
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is a time set apart for us to remember thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:3 “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
If you or I were in such a situation, what would you ask your wider church family to do for you? Every time I ask a persecuted Christian what we can do for them, the answer is always the same: "please pray for us." A few months ago, in Orissa state's Kandhamal district in India, I met several widows of Christian leaders who were killed in the recent anti-Christian violence. They had lost everything: their homes, their possessions and their husbands. “We have lost everything except our faith,” one told me, clutching her baby. “Pray that we stay strong and bring up our children in the faith for which their fathers gave their lives.”
Each year, The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church gives us the privilege of joining together with over half a million churches in 150 countries to pray for the suffering church. It plays a vital role in encouraging and strengthening the persecuted church and also awakening churches in places where there is no persecution.
Let us unite in prayer for the persecuted church, in the spirit of oneness that Christ commanded, “For, if one suffers, we all suffer.”