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SHARING THE GOSPEL IN THE FACE OF PERSECUTION
March 10, 2015
A church leader in Vietnam is taken to the police station to be beaten and interrogated. A young girl in Pakistan, falsely accused of ripping pages from the Koran, is arrested as a mob shouts “Kill her!”. A widow in Libya grieves the murder of her husband, who was executed along with 20 other Coptic Christians because of his faith. And in the news right now, Christians are being attacked in Iraq, Nigeria and many other parts of the world.
Persecution can be political, personal, or religious. As Open Doors developed the World Watch List (ranking persecuted countries), they found that Islamic Extremism is by far the most numerous persecution engine (40 of the top 50 countries names Islamic Extremism as a source of persecution). Other reasons for persecution include religious nationalism, dictatorial paranoia, and organised corruption.
However, we know that persecution is not a new thing… In Acts 4 we read about the first record of persecution that the early church experienced. Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin because they were declaring Jesus’ resurrection publically. One thing we learn is that this did not stop them from proclaiming the gospel. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, shared; ‘It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed… Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’
Looking at the persecuted church challenges our own life as a follower of Christ. Knowing Jesus’ call to costly faith, do we ask ourselves: “Am I willing to live this out at any cost? Is Jesus really worth living and dying for?”
The gospel calls us to lay it all down at the cross, to forsake life itself so that we might gain Christ and be found in him. This is such a challenging message for us because we hold on to our life so tightly. So are we willing to let go? Will we join our persecuted brothers and sisters by being willing to suffer for the gospel in Australia?
“Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8)
Pray for the persecuted church
An additional way we can respond is through prayer. We know that in many persecuted nations there are also many people who are unreached, people who haven’t heard the gospel due to the different circumstances of persecution. Let’s pray for boldness for Christians living in these nations to proclaim the gospel as Peter and John did, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Voice of the Martyrs have put together a world map showing where the church is persecuted. You can use it as a guide to pray.
[Source: Voice of the Martyrs Australia, March 2015 (Used with permission) To enlarge, click on the image]
Here are some ways you can pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters:
- Pray God will give them the right words and that they will fearlessly make Christ known. (Eph 6:19-20, Col 4:2-4)
- Pray they will remember that persecution is part of God’s will for them. (Phil 1:29)
- Pray they will know God’s sufficient grace and His power perfected in their weakness. (2 Cor 12:9-10)