How can a Christian who is undergoing persecution for their faith manage to keep perspective? Ziya Meral says:
For the average persecuted Christian, their prayers seem unanswered and they lack peace, strength, courage, and joy. Their humanness in a very earthly plot line finds no place in our modern-day obsession with heroic stories with victorious resolutions.
For persecuted Christians, suffering turns into affliction when they internalize the horrible feeling that they are alone. When the persecuted Christian begins to believe that most of the global church does not care and will not be there to share his pain, loneliness moves from the physical dimension to an inner anguish.
So how can we help them know they are not abandoned?
Classics like Foxe’s Book of Martyrsand Martyr’s Mirror (read widely in the Anabaptist tradition) highlight the inspiring and heart-wrenching stories of brothers and sisters who have lived for Christ to the end.
More current accounts include Heavenly Man, Back to the Jerusalem of the East: The Underground House Church of North Korea, and I am N: Inspiring Stories of Christians Facing Islamic Extremists.
There’s a trove of online resources as well. Each of these websites offers stories, videos, and opportunities to get involved and take action.
- Voice of the Martyrs offers a free newsletter that allows you to learn briefly about a particular country, people group, family, or person suffering from the threat of persecution.
- Open Doors USA offers a LiveChat feature where you can speak with their staff in real time to ask questions and receive resources or information about the persecuted church.
- Visit Christian Freedom International, Barnabas Aid, and International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Go Deeper with Missionaries
Beyond educating yourself, you can make a big impact by getting your entire church involved. If your church partners with missionaries, consider supporting a few ministry partners and going deeper with them instead of partnering with dozens of missionaries with little involvement. As a result, those in your church will call these missionaries dear friends and will rally to help when disastrous things happen. Such a connection will move those in your church to pray and give.
Inform Your Church
- Host a Voice of the Martyrs advocate on a Sunday morning (they’re more than willing to visit your church and discuss the issue) or see if there is an event near you.
- Participate in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
- Invite Brother Yun (the “Heavenly Man”) to your church.
- Teach the children in your church in an age-appropriate way. For example, watch the videos in the Torchlighters series. This series offers short, true-life stories of Christian martyrs retold for young audiences. And let families get involved by purchasing Family Med Packs.
- Write letters to persecuted Christians.
Give and Pray
There are several practical and creative ways to give:
- Start giving a percentage of your annual church budget toward pastors and missionaries in hostile areas where persecution exists.
- Take a special offering for the organizations listed above. Funds can help to cover practical and medical relief for Christian refugees and legal fees for imprisoned Christians.
- Participate with other churches around the world in November on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
- Pray creatively. A few years ago, we invited the congregation to stand and we divided the room in two. We asked the left side of the room to hold their hands over their mouths, symbolizing silencing and the ways in which foreign governments are working hard to silence Christians legally and politically. We asked the right side of the room to hold their hands behind their backs (as if handcuffed) and to lower their heads, to symbolize the physical harm persecuted brothers and sisters endure. We asked people to consider their bodily posture and to pray silently for those who are suffering that form of persecution today around the world. Although we did these “posture prayers” a few years ago, we still have people tell us how meaningful that time of prayer was.
- Utilize specific prayer prompt resources: If you need specific prayer prompts to guide you in interceding on behalf of others, use the Voice of the Martyrs Pray Today app.
J.R. Briggs is the founder of Kairos Partnerships and pastor of The Renew Community, in the greater Philadelphia area. He has written and co-written several books for ministry leaders, including Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure, Eldership and the Mission of God, and the forthcoming book Ministry Mantras (IVP). You can find him on Twitter at @jr_briggs. This article is adapted from one that appeared at CTPastors.com.