Thursday, October 30, 2014

Has the Western Church Lost Its Love
For Persecuted Christians?

In a time when violence is on the rise, we are bombarded with news of severe persecution against Christians. Story after story of imprisonment, torture, rape, beatings and beheadings are reported daily. 

The question I must ask is: Is there still a disconnect between the American Christian culture and the persecuted believers overseas?

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is on November 2nd. Organizations are working tirelessly to bring unity to our dysfunctional spiritual family but research shows a lack of interest in participating in the IDOP.

The Persecution Resource Council reported, “During the week prior to the 2013 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, we reviewed the websites of the one hundred seventy leading churches and denominations. Nearly all of these leading Christian organizations had Veteran’s Day- or Thanksgiving-related “food for the hungry” programs advertised on their home pages.

None of them mentioned the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on their website’s home page. Only ten of them had it listed on their website’s calendar of events or somewhere else on their websites.”

The statistics are clear: western Christians have lost their love and burden for the persecuted church. Why is it that we can receive persecution news in “real time” and yet lack the heart to pray? These persecution stories are not just statistics; they are real people who are part of our spiritual family.

The media brings reports about my spiritual family...and your family too. This morning I asked myself the question, what would I do if my parents were threatened, abused or imprisoned? How would I respond?

Should I not feel the same urgency for all the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters being persecuted right now? Jesus is calling us to “Remember those in prison, as if we were there ourselves. Remember also those being mistreated, as if we felt their pain in our own bodies.” (Hebrews 13:3)

Take at least five minutes to pray. Pray that God would revive your heart to “remember them as though you were with them” and that you would “feel their pain in your own body”. 

After all, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26) …because we are family, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Liena's Prayer: Counting the Cost In Syria

This past week I was struggling with discouragement. I don't believe it is merely coincidental that personal trials become complex when we shift our gaze off of Christ. It's easy to blow things out of proportion and minimize how self-centered our struggles really are.   
Liena's children counted the cost to follow Jesus
I found my wakeup call through the testimony of a woman in Syria. Liena and her family turned down offers of asylum in Western countries after civil war broke out in Syria. They knew the cost that might be required, but they chose to remain as witnesses to their Muslim neighbors and as an encouragement to other Christians.

Liena was a dedicated Christian, faithful wife and mother of two. In her prayers, she asked God to use her to reach more people. And then God asked her to make one more commitment.

Her story begs the question, "What does it truly mean to be a Christian?"

Through this woman's testimony God opened my eyes to see beyond the daily grind of my own selfish struggles and trivial burdens. How do we even begin to understand this type of sacrifice in the culture we live in? Will you pray for me? I am praying for you. Please watch this... 

Nov. 2, 2014, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Please visit Voice of The Martyrs for more information on how you and your church can get involved.