How many brothers and sisters on the frontlines of the battle are forgotten, left alone to wage a war against an enemy who hated Jesus before it ever hated them? Do you ever wonder on your most miserable day, how these heroes, who are persecuted for their faith, handle pain, grief, loneliness and isolation? The truth is, they cannot wage these battles alone and I believe there are ways we can help lighten their burdens.
The Persecuted Church – What it Needs and How You Can Help
They need you to know they exist
Let’s never forget that these persecuted believers are our brothers and sisters – family! “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” (Hebrews 13:3). Use the various forms of communication and fellowship connections available to spread awareness to the Christian community: talk about the persecuted with friends and family, Christian co-workers, church members; keep their plight alive on social media venues; and use opportunities as you preach, teach, train, equip, blog, write – whatever it is you do. If you are a church leader, think about an awareness campaign at your church that will aid in keeping the memory of these true soldiers of Christ on the forefront of ministry.
Be a burden bearer
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). Although the immediate context found in this verse is speaking of the restoration of the believer under the burden of their own sin, the general application is to help those affected by the prevalent curse of sin and death. These precious saints have found themselves in the demonic epicenter of spiritual warfare and physical pain and grief and are paying a dear price. We are commanded to care. “…weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15); we are commanded to suffer with them “…if one member suffers, all the member suffer” (I Corinthians 12:26). Take the wounds and concerns to the cross on their behalf, it is there that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30).
There are organizations that exist to inform, support, rally around, strategize and implement helpful ways to stand by the persecuted church. Seek these communities out. Make sure that they are not only legitimate, but have a proven track record of careful stewardship of the resources handed to them. There are direct forms of giving and some organization are equipped to accept alternative forms of giving such as car donations and other “Stuff”.
Pray for the persecuted
I am going to spend a little time on this one. Most to of us cannot physically be there with the persecuted; we cannot hold their hand, comfort, encourage, wipe their tears or speak words of life to their souls, but what we can do is intercede on their behalf and plead that God would do all these things. In prayer we can battle the accusations, the discouragement and the destruction of the enemy. Pray God would give them the words to speak (Mark 13:11); strength to bless their persecutors (Luke 6:28); to experience God’s mercy (Psalm 9:3); to be strengthened (Ephesians 3:16); and have access to a Bible. And when the burden God places on your soul is so intense that you have no idea what to pray, ask for the Spirit of God to speak the words for you: “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now, He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27).
Pray for the persecutors
What?! Who is the persecutor worthy of mercy? He zealously seeks to stop the spread of Christianity, dragging Christians to prisons, public trials and executions, cheering on the rush of fellow persecutors to mercilessly terrorize and kill the most vocal of God’s ambassadors. You may think I am referring to ISIS or some other modern-day terrorist group, but I specifically speak of Saul of Tarsus who on his way to inflict far more damage to the Christian church than he had to date, was confronted by Jesus Himself. Saul became the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest teachers and evangelists of all time. The great persecutor later referred to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel God. Pray for those who persecute (Luke 6:28).
Be prepared to join the battle.
The source of persecution is Satan himself (Revelation 2:10) and trying to take up a physical battle against him is like punching the air, no matter how tangible the source of persecution appears. We battle against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). The warfare against persecution is spiritual, therefore success in spiritual warfare requires reliance on God’s power, not our own.
A wise man once told me that the church is never more pure and powerful than when it is persecuted. Perhaps the daily consideration of these saints, who truly know what it means to suffer for the sake of Christ, will inspire us to seek sound biblical answers for the hope that lies within us. Inspired by their example, we can build the courage necessary to hear and do the things God has instructed us to do, to put on the full armor of God and be watchful for that day or hour when Jesus returns, and awaken to a heightened level of sobriety. “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-13).