On National Siblings Day, our focus turns to the persecuted church worldwide: our brothers and sisters in Christ who risk everything to worship and serve him. At the time of writing, countries in the spotlight include India, Bangladesh, China and Nigeria. Our first reaction might be that we are powerless to help, but by partnering with one of the excellent organisations that work in these areas, we can add another voice to the campaigns and another pair of hands to the tasks.
Green: Have a look at this blog post which lists ten charities that help support the persecuted church, and familiarise yourself with their work.
Amber: Take one of the charities from the list and find out how you could get involved in the future. It could be anything from campaigning, signing petitions or donating a gift.
Red: Write an encouraging letter to a Christian in prison for their faith; this link shows you how.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5:10 NIV)
Sunder was filled with joy to see his church worshipping together. When he’d reached this village two years earlier, no one had ever heard of the Good News of Jesus. Sunder had had to work hard, building relationships and sharing the message. And one by one, families had begun to meet with Jesus, accepting him as Lord. But then others had come – claiming that Jesus was a foreign god and that Christians couldn’t be trusted. Propaganda had become warnings and warnings had become threats. Yet despite this, this Sunday, like every Sunday, Sunder’s people were still meeting for worship.
And then the shouting began.
A group of angry men burst into the worship service. They accused Sunder of forcibly making these families turn to Christ. They threatened him with abusive language, and ordered him to deny Jesus. When he refused, they pushed him to the ground and began to beat and kick him. Then everyone fled and Sunder was left alone. When the police finally arrived, it was poor Sunder they arrested. When he was released, his attackers again confronted him. Seeing his resolve, they told him that if he didn’t abandon his ministry there, they’d kill him. Yet Sunder defied them. He told them it was God he feared, not man.
And though the opposition has continued, no further harm has come to Sunder or his church. Despite everything, he still praises God. He fixes his eyes on another Man, who many hundreds of years ago bled and died for Sunder’s sake. The innocent for the guilty.
And it is this love of Jesus that moves Sunder to expend everything for his community – even his own life. Many people across the world today are facing similar persecution, and none more so than those daring to step out and share the gospel with the lost.
May we pray that these brave men and women would continue to know the Lord’s comfort and strength. And may we pray that we, too, would be stirred to follow their example.