When our Redeemer walked on earth over 2,000 years ago, He had a clear message for His disciples: Reach the world with His message of salvation! No continent, no country, no race, no social status or any other factor was to be an exception or exemption. Jesus came to seek and save lost souls. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
The King of Glory willingly walked among sinful man. He also willingly gave His life to save mankind from the sins that held their souls captive. Envisioning what He endured when He was crucified, we understand more in depth how much He was willing to pay for the desperate state of the creation He wanted to redeem.
Shortly after His crucifixion, there were those who wanted the gospel and the miracles of Jesus to be silenced. Acts 4:16-19 tells us about the Jewish leaders commanding Peter and John to not speak or teach about Jesus. Their response let the leaders know that Peter and John would listen to and obey God, rather than listen to and obey men.
Our world still attempts to silence men and women who are following the command of Jesus. Reaching the world with the message of our Savior and His gift of salvation is still forbidden in some countries. However, just as we read in the book of Acts, there are still those who choose to listen to and obey God rather than listen to the commands of leaders who want the gospel to vanish.
Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ don’t have Christian liberties or freedom to openly serve God. However, they haven’t let the threats of men stop them from the great commission. The Christian church and missionaries in many foreign fields face hostility for their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Imprisonment, beatings, confiscation of property and even execution are only some of the wrongful treatments our spiritual family suffers in several countries of the world.
For those of us that live in a country where exercising our faith in God is openly allowed, we must never lose our thankfulness for the freedom we have. Furthermore, let’s make sure our perception of personal persecution does not mock those who could lose their lives for committing themselves to Jesus. Ease in this area can cause us to think a simple insult about our Christian faith is persecution, while many countries cannot even mention their relationship with God for fear of severe consequences.
These 50 countries bring many millions of Christians onto Open Doors’s 2020 World Watch List of Christian persecution. Every day, 8 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith. Every week, 182 churches or Christian buildings are attacked. And every month, 309 Christians are imprisoned unjustly. (Christianity Today)
Hebrew 13:3 says, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Reminding ourselves to pray for the persecuted church is a worthwhile call-to-action. We need to feel compassion a deep sense of brotherly love for them. Their burdens are great, and opportunities to live in fear are at every turn. Consider how you can pray for your spiritual family who faces hardships every day:
Pray for Their Protection and Strength
Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
Many of us cannot even imagine being physically harmed, or even killed because we shared the Gospel with another human being. Our persecuted brothers and sisters display an incredible strength and commitment when no earthly punishment can stop them. Their continual reliance on the power of the Holy Ghost is crucial. And our continual prayer for their daily strength may be what helps them to face another day with courage and focus.
Additionally, they are following what the Lord told them to do. Some of us face situations that aren’t ideal, but most of us are not facing our daily walk with the Lord having constant threats hovering over us. Let us pray for their protection. His strength behind them and His leading will give His children what they need to accomplish His will.
Pray for Them to be Led to Hungry Souls
Acts 16:9 “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. Verse 10 tells of their certainty that God sent them to preach the gospel.”
(It is possible that the man in Paul’s vision was the jailer that we read about in Acts 16:23-34.)
In countries with Christian freedoms, we can openly talk to others and broach the subject of Jesus without any fear. This isn’t the case for those under threat of persecution. The beautiful thing is that laws and threats cannot stop the leading of the Lord. He is not hindered by any circumstances. He can cause the paths of a hungry soul and a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led child of His to cross. His divine orchestration is amazing. While we aren’t in the physical location to witness to the hungry souls that are crying out for help in countries apart from our own, we can pray for our brothers and sisters who are. Pray for them as they are listening for the voice of God and following the leading of His Spirit to reach each and every desperate soul.
Pray for God to Show Himself Strong on Behalf of His Church
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
The Word of God tells us that He wants to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely turned to Him. The persecuted church isn’t like the modern-day churches that are privileged to come and go as they please without threat of punishment. Careful speech and careful planning are part of their Christian walk. Gathering for worship is not easy for them, nor is sharing the goodness of God with others. Yet, they find a way. They make a way. They know they must rely on Him to provide. Pray for God to show His strength for those who are completely His. Pray for Him to move mountains, to deliver and heal as only He can.
Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Make the burden of the persecuted church your personal burden. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Josanne Anthony is the pastor’s wife of a home missions work in Pennsylvania, USA. Born again at the age of 15, she has been the recipient of much grace and mercy over the past 35 years. Her desire is to have the heartbeat of God toward a lost and dying world.