Picture a typical Sunday morning attending Laurelglen Bible Church. You enter the sanctuary to the smiles and handshakes of friends and find a seat in one of the pews for worship. Pastor Eric takes the stage and begins to preach when you start to hear a sound slowly rising from outside the church. The sound is indistinct at first and then louder and louder – it’s the angry chanting of a mob.
Suddenly a rock bursts through one of the windows sending shards of broken glass everywhere – you barely have time to let out an audible gasp before the doors slam open as two-thousand angry rioters stream into the building shoving your friends, tearing Bibles from their hands, and screaming death threats. Pastor Eric is dragged from the pulpit and thrown into a cop car to be hauled off to jail. You’re told that if you are ever to gather at the LBC campus again that everyone will be killed. The congregation is forcibly shoved out of the building as they’re spat upon, hit, and mocked by the angry mob forced to watch helplessly as the building is vandalized and destroyed.
To your average American believer, this scenario would be unimaginable. However, what if I told you that an event like this took place just this year in Sri Lanka? I was shocked to find out that 322 Christians are killed for their faith EVERY MONTH around the world. Thousands more are persecuted in a multitude of other ways. In our island of democracy and freedom, it can be easy to forget the pain, fear, and tragedy that comes with calling yourself a follower of Jesus for so many of our brothers and sisters living around the world. For 75% of the nations of the world, declaring yourself a Christ-follower can result in losing your job, your business, being ostracized from your family and social circles, beatings, torture, rape, prison, and death for you and your family.
This month, we want to take the time to pray for those that live in the thick of persecution around the globe as part of the International Day of Prayer. 1st Corinthians 12 tells us that all believers are a part of the same body, and when part of it suffers, we all suffer together. Hebrews 13:3 tells us, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” If we can be honest with ourselves, we will have to admit it is difficult to identify with our brothers and sisters in these countries where the words, “take up your cross and follow me,” have a much more literal meaning than they do for us in the US. I found it helpful to acquaint myself with some of the testimonies of those that had suffered for their faith by visiting https://www.opendoorsusa.org/videos/. I have personally found the stories to be not only moving, but encouraging and motivational to live out my faith boldly.
I hope you will all join me in praying during International Day of Prayer, but also make a commitment to pray for the persecuted church on a regular basis either on your own, with your family, or in your small group. You can sign up for prayer alerts or get a prayer calendar at https://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray/#newsletter.
Today, we lift up our brothers and sisters living in the persecuted church. We pray for those living in war-torn countries, those who live under harsh dictatorships, and those who are hunted for their faith. God we pray that you would uphold them. We pray that you would guard your witness in these dark places for your sake Lord. We pray that you would remind your children of your promises – especially that they are not alone.
God, we pray for those in prison for their faith. We pray that your words would not perish from their hearts and that they may be reminded of your mercy and grace. We pray that you would set your captive children free and bring justice for the oppressed
Lord, we thank you for your promises – that thought we will have trouble in this world we will not taste death. We thank you that we can boldly proclaim your Gospel in the face of persecution, because we have the blessed assurance of an eternal life.
We thank you for the testimony of the martyrs Lord. We pray that their light would be seen by the whole world, and their persecutors might be brought to a place of repentance and brokenness before you. We pray for the terrorist organizations, the oppressive regimes, the criminal organizations, and all the enemies of the church that they would come to know the one true God and bow down in repentance before Him.
We pray for your Word, that it would not be distorted or corrupted in your church. We pray for sound doctrine, clarity, and maturity among your followers. We pray that you would uphold, strengthen, and grow your church in the face of persecution.
Thank you Lord for your enduring promises. We thank you for your Son who will return one day to bring justice to our broken world. We thank you for your forgiveness.
In Jesus’ precious name we pray,
– Nathan, Pastoral Intern