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Faith McDonnell March 29, 2012
One of the reasons that people don’t want to know about the egregious persecution of Christians around the world is that it makes them feel helpless. “What can we do?” they demand. But every person has the ability to be an advocate for the persecuted if they are informed about the various avenues of advocacy. A better question is “What can we do?”
Actually there are many things that we can do as advocates for the persecuted church and for other global human rights issues. There is a resource in the Religious Liberty section of the IRD website called Become Aware and Take Action. Past action items included advocacy for the persecuted in India, Eritrea, and Nigeria. Now we are planning on expanding that resource to address general advocacy for the persecuted church, with suggestions for many kinds of public policy advocacy as well as for prayer. Feel free to reproduce any of these resources for your church, Bible study group, school, etc.
Prayer is where we begin and end our advocacy, and prayer infuses all that we do as advocates. Informed prayer is even better – not because God needs to be informed – but because when we take the time to learn more about the subject of our prayer, we will actually pray more. And, hopefully, we will share our information with friends, family, fellow church members, and social network contacts.
Imagine the days when we used to pray for persecuted Christians and Jewish dissidents in the Soviet Union without the benefit of social networking or the internet or even fax machines! That was really not that long ago. And yet our prayers and hand-written letters to prisoners in Soviet labor camps and mental institutions, and to Soviet officials and to members of Congress made a difference. Think how much more of an impact we can have today.
The new items will be in the Become Aware and Take Action section of the IRD website under the title Resources for Advocacy for the Persecuted Church. The first one we are posting today is a list of The Top Ten Reasons to Pray for the Persecuted Church. You may not need such justification, but you may run across someone who may not actually ask the question, but who, by their own prayers – absorbed with personal petitions, or even with domestic concerns – seems to feel that prayer for people halfway around the world is not important. This list and the Bible verses that follow will equip you to challenge them on their indifference.
The Top Ten Reasons to Pray for the Persecuted Church:
#10 Because they are being persecuted.
#9 Because while it is true that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” it is also true that unabated persecution can actually eradicate Christian communities (i.e. the Middle East).
#8 Because bodies of believers under persecution frequently do not have the chance to grow and be discipled, and can be led into heretical doctrines and cults.
#7 Because they are our family – our brothers and sisters in Christ.
#6 Because they ask us to pray for them.
#5 Because it enriches our own spiritual life when we pray for the persecuted church and understand their courageous witness.
#4 Because God changes our hearts by prayer and motivates us to action.
#3 Because it is right to stand against injustice and persecution for one’s faith is an injustice.
#2 Because it works! God answers prayer.
#1 Because God says to!
Some Relevant Bible verses
Proverbs 14: 31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for his maker.
Proverbs 24: 11-12 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter. If you say “But we knew nothing of this” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?
Matt. 25: 36 I was in prison and you visited me.
Hebrews 13: 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Gal. 6: 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
1 Cor. 12: 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.
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