You don’t have to stick around Christian circles long before you hear a prayer similar to this, “Thank you God for the freedom to meet here. We know that we have brothers and sisters in Christ who cannot meet without persecution.” What’s your reaction to those reminders of the persecuted Church? My reaction has been a simmering pot of guilt, futility and denial.
Guilt. First I feel awful for all the blessings I have. All the graces I have been giving and how ungrateful I have been. Honestly, I am ashamed. I feel guilty about how little I think and pray for my brothers and sisters. I feel guilty that I haven’t DONE anything.
Futility. When the guilt hits, I pray. I pray for those nameless, faceless people that don’t have it as good as me. But now what??? I know…prayer is powerful. I do not in anyway want to diminish what God can do through the prayers of believers. Please don’t misconstrue that. But my prayers were so vague, general. The problem is so beyond me. Out of reach. I’m just a suburban mom. There’s no check to write. No boo-boo to kiss. No meal to make. What can I do? I always felt I had no outlet.
Denial. As the guilt fades, so do my thoughts of those suffering. My brain and heart can’t handle the horror so it dismisses the reality. It’s all subconscious of course. But the result is the same. My life continues unaffected, unhindered by the persecution of my kindred.
I am ashamed. But I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in these feelings. I don’t want to waste my life.
Things started to change when I read Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. (I plan on reviewing this book soon.) But you NEED to read it. It will ruin your life.
Reading “Radical” was what got my butt in motion. Start there. Then check out some of these other ways that you can practically but lift up the persecuted church. Give them names and faces. Stop living in guilt, futility and denial. God has so much more joy for us than that.
How To LOVE The Persecuted Church:
2. Loan the book to someone else.
3. Download the Voice of the Martyrs App (VOM) This has been the most helpful tool for me. Each week, you’ll be reminded to pray for a specific hostile or restricted country. There will be a paragraph or two about each country. Then each day there will be one very specific thing to pray for about the believers there. I’m learning so much and my prayers are so much less vague! You can use the app to set a reminder alarm everyday so you won’t forget. Is there any day you don’t at least look at your phone? I think not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stopped quit literally in my tracts by these reminders to pray. It will lift you out of your struggles and give you perspective. Such a blessing.
4. Become an advocate for those in prison for their faith. Alright, I just discovered this today and I just can’t keep it in. EVERY CHRISTIAN needs to know about this. You can WRITE to believers behind bars in other countries. I had no idea! Check out the prisoner alert page at Voice of the Martyrs website. They have a bunch of phrases of encouragement that you can compile in their language. Then you can print it out and send it. While there are thousands of Christians behind bars, these are the ones that we know their stories and know where to send the letter. It’s beyond easy and you can get your kids involved too. (I intend to raise radical kids.) Bolster the faith of your brothers. Show your sisters they are not alone. You can also write their captors. Just check out the site for instructions. Grace is for all, even the persecutors.
5. Bring attention via social media to those behind bars. After scrolling around on the VOM site, I saw that the more pressure the government received, typically, the better prisoners were treated. Most of these countries have laws in place about religious freedom, but they are ignored. If other countries found out, they might decide to cave.
SO WHAT if you annoy your “friends” on facebook! SO WHAT if pinterest is supposed to be just a happy place full of yummy recipes and craft ideas! A tweet won’t be a bother. An email takes just a second. Share what you learn about the persecuted church with others. It DOES have an impact.
6. Check out this crazy cool list of practical ways to minister to the suffering, NOT just financially. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something here.
7. Pray. “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3
HE is sovereign, powerful and good. Our only hope.
What ways have you found to get over guilt, futility and denial and get on to the life God has called you to lead? Please share!