Archive for the ‘Pray for the Persecuted’ Category
Posted on June 17th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
In a brief statement released this past Saturday, Open Doors made clear their position on Israeli and Palestinian Christians. In a conflict consisting of bitter sentiments and deadly violence, Open Doors has chosen to be fully supportive of the Church on both sides of the ongoing battle in the Middle East.
“Open Doors is not against the Jews, nor are we for or against the Palestinians. We are for the Church in the Middle East, both Messianic congregations and Palestinian churches.” They go on to say that their organization “does not take sides, but rather, we support the Church wherever it is struggling for survival, and that certainly is the situation among the Palestinians and Messianic Jews.”
It’s a politically-charged issue that’s as complex as it is turbulent, and regardless of your position on what steps should or should not be taken by governments and militaries, one thing is certain: we must support the hurting Church on both sides of this conflict. As Open Doors put it, “An important part of strengthening the persecuted Church is involvement of the body of Christ living in the free world, which needs to pray for them and provide the resources required to assist their persecuted brethren.”
Open Doors’ support of both Israeli and Palestinian Christians is instructive for us as we seek to honor Christ in our love for his global Church. Let’s not be selective in our love and support of different members of the Body. To better inform your prayers, here is a recent Open Doors prayer update on some of the struggles facing Israeli believers as well as some ways you can pray for Palestinian believers in Gaza and the West Bank.
This post was originally published on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for info and updates about the persecuted Church as well as Secret Church gatherings.
Posted on June 11th, 2013 by Jonathan LenningOpen Doors differentiates between the two. But what does it mean for the church to be squeezed?Not all persecution is as glaringly evident as that of believers suffering the horrors of North Korean prison camps or Nigerian church bombings. A lot of persecution is indirect, and though less obvious, the difficulty it brings is just as real. It may be helpful to think about indirect persecution as “squeezing,” whereas direct could be considered “smashing.” This is how
Think pressure. If we relegate persecution to instances of direct violence, we inevitably miss a lot of the areas where Christianity is still completely oppressed. In fact, according to Open Doors, “sometimes the degree of persecution is so intense, and so all-pervasive, it actually results in fewer incidents of persecution, since acts of public witness and defiance are rare.” In other words, some of the worst persecution does not exhibit itself in beatings or imprisonment, but in total, silent suppression. It’s been said that many persecutors would even prefer indirect persecution to direct, believing their attempted suffocation of the church to be more effective.
But if you’re like me, you need some examples to help you think about what it can look like for Christians to be persecuted indirectly like this. Open Doors cites the Maldives, a country in which Christians “are surrounded on every side with massive pressure from friends, neighbors, family, and the government, which means they can hardly express their faith.” Unfortunately, we don’t need to look past last week to find other examples.
Open Doors issued a prayer update on June 5 in which Indonesia’s radical Islamists are waging a new kind of battle against the Christian church planting there. They have turned to threatening fellow Muslims by denying them a proper Muslim burial if they approve of a church building being constructed in their area. Pressure.
The day before, Voice of the Martyrs reported a church closing in Iran last month. The church leaders had been ordered to conduct services only in Armenian, a language less than two percent of the population speaks. To be sure, the actions that led up to the church closing included imprisonment of church leaders, a form of direct persecution. However, by prohibiting the church from using the most effective language for spreading the gospel among Iranians (53 percent of the population speaks Farsi), the government’s tool of choice is now indirect; they aren’t prohibiting Christianity or even Christian churches, just the speaking of the people’s language. Squeezing.
So let’s remember these forgotten sufferers in our prayers. They may not be in the headlines for bombings, shootings, or torture, but they’re just as much persecuted and just as much in need of our prayer support.
Posted on June 6th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
By identifying the countries in which Christians are most persecuted, the World Watch List is designed to be a tool to help believers pray specifically for their persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. The rankings are reassessed every year based on research and questionnaires that identify the severity of persecution in five spheres of life: Private Life, Family Life, Community Life, National Life, and Church Life. The short video below helps explain further.
World Watch List Top Ten
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
This was originally posted on the Secret Church blog – keep an eye on it for updates and information on persecution in the global church and upcoming Secret Church gatherings. For the complete top 50, see World Watch List’s website. World Watch List is a ministry of Open Doors, an organization devoted to serving the persecuted Church worldwide.
Posted on May 22nd, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Violence in Nigeria has been escalating in recent years, much of it directed toward Christians. In many instances, the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram has been responsible. The bloodshed has continued in recent days, and our brothers and sisters there need our prayers now as much as ever.
In a May 15 prayer update, Open Doors reported a violent encounter between Christians and Muslims in which at least 39 people were killed and 30 were injured. The Jukun tribe, containing many Christians, was in the middle of a funeral procession, burying one of their leaders. As they approached a predominantly Fulani Muslim area of their city, Wukari, some Muslim youth blocked the way, saying they would not allow infidels to pass and claiming that to do so would interrupt their Friday prayers.
In the fighting that ensued, an estimated 70 homes and shops were destroyed, which, when added with the vehicles and other material that was destroyed, could amount to over $6 million in damages. All this, of course, is in addition to the nearly 40 lives that were lost.
But this incident was preceded by others in April. In their most recent prayer update, Voice of the Martyrs recounted two separate occasions in Nigeria’s Borno state in which Christians were intentionally singled out and killed. These two incidents alone resulted in the deaths of 29 Christians.
- … that Christians in Nigeria would stand strong in their faith and bravely follow Christ’s humble example in their suffering.
- … that their powerful witness would point others toward Jesus.
- … for Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, a self-proclaimed Christian, to have wisdom and courage as he makes important decisions regarding the nation’s internal security.
- … for the Muslim youth, Boko Haram, and all Muslim extremists to be convicted of their sin, to repent, and to have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Posted on May 9th, 2013 by David Burnette
World magazine is reporting the following concerning Saeed Abedini, the American pastor who is being held in Iran’s infamous Evin prison:
“Iranian authorities released American pastor Saeed Abedini from solitary confinement today after forcing him to spend the week of his birthday in a “small dark hole,” according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Abedini, imprisoned for 225 days in Evin Prison because of his Christian faith, turned 33 on May 7 while in solitary confinement. Supporters sent more than 52,500 birthday messages to the prison addressed to Abedini.
His wife, Naghmeh, wrote in a letter: “With tightness in my throat, pain in my heart, and tears streaming down my face … I promise to stand strong in the strength of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fighting with every strength of my being until you are united to our family again.”
Read the full story here.
This is good news, especially considering the physical suffering Pastor Abedini was previously facing according to a previous article posted by Christianity Today on April 19th. See the earlier story here.
Posted on May 9th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
The following is one of the May 3 prayer updates from Voice of the Martyrs:
“Persecution of Christians by Muslim extremists continues to increase in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Pastor Mathayo Kachili was killed in Buseresere, Tanzania, recently by radical Muslims who attacked him with machetes. Pastor Mathayo was a husband and father of 12 children. VOM workers met with his wife, Generosa, to encourage and comfort her, and also helped provide some of her needs, including shelter, food, clothing and seed money to start a small business. Christianity is still the majority religion in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, and church growth has been remarkable in the last 20 years. But Islamists in the north have been pouring resources into East Africa to radicalize the Muslim population and drive out Christians.”
For more information about persecuted believers and how you can pray for them, be sure to check out Voice of the Martyrs. Open Doors also offers a variety of useful information to help us better support our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
Posted on May 1st, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
The following was posted on the ‘Gleanings’ page of Christianity Today’s website. CT has linked to a number of helpful sources throughout their post, so be sure to check it out if you want more information on this situation.
“North Korea has announced that it will try an American citizen who was arrested nearly six months ago for “crimes aimed to topple the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea].” If convicted, China-based missionary Kenneth Bae could face the death penalty.
But Bae’s friends say he did not do anything wrong despite reports by North Korean state media that he confessed to the crime. According to the Associated Press, “friends and colleagues described Bae as a devout Christian from Washington state but based in the Chinese border city of Dalian who traveled frequently to North Korea to feed the country’s orphans.”
Bae was detained in November 2012. The State Department has not confirmed that Bae is indeed the man whom North Korea plans to put on trial.
“At least three other Americans detained in recent years also have been devout Christians,” the AP reports. “While North Korea’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, in practice only sanctioned services are tolerated by the regime.”
According to the U.S. State Department’s most recent Report on International Religious Freedom, North Korea holds an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 prisoners for political and religious reasons. Among those held in 2010 was Christian activist Robert Park, who was imprisoned in North Korea for seven months.”
Park entered the country without authorization intending to be arrested, but told CT after his release that he never wanted anyone else to enter the country as he did. However, a friend and fellow Christian, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, followed suit. Jimmy Carter secured his release.
Posted on April 25th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Here’s the latest on Pastor Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American who was sentenced to eight years in Evin Prison on January 27, 2013. The judge’s decision was based on Abedini’s previous leadership in a network of Christian house churches in Iran, which he deemed to be a threat to national security.
Pastor Saeed remains in Evin Prison, perhaps the worst one in Iran. According to a brief article on Christianity Today’s blog, Gleanings, the pastor’s treatment is worsening, and subsequently, so is his condition. While beatings continue, medical treatment for his wounds is being denied, and due to what is thought to be internal bleeding, he suffers from frequent fainting spells. On top of all this, his cellmates have threatened to suffocate him in his sleep.
The reason for Pastor Saeed’s harsh treatment stems from his faith in Jesus. According to a letter that he sent to his family, he was told, ”Deny your faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam or else you will not be released from prison. We will make sure you are kept here even after your 8 year sentence is finished.”
Pastor Saeed’s response was Romans 8:35-39:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“The reality of Christian living is that difficulties or problems do arise in our lives,” Pastor Saeed wrote. “Persecution and difficulties are not new occurrences, but are seen often in the Christian life. It is through the suffering and tribulations that we are to enter the Kingdom of God.”
According to an April 10 news release from the ACLJ, he closed the letter, “Pastor Saeed Abedini, the servant and slave of Jesus Christ in chains, with a lot of joy to see you soon. Evin Prison 9th March 2013.”
Let’s remember to pray for Pastor Saeed – not only for his physical safety and deliverance, but more importantly for endurance to run the race and keep the faith. Let’s pray that by God’s grace, he serves Jesus well in his chains. Also, let’s remember to pray for his wife and two children back at home in the United States. If you want to encourage Pastor Saeed with a letter, go here.
Posted on April 17th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
In a recent Open Doors press release, Pastor Edward Awabdeh, of Alliance Church in Damascus, described the situation he and his fellow believers are facing amid the Syrian civil war. “It is risky, yes,” says the pastor. “When you need to drive through the city you run a high risk. Roads are closed. Twenty-four hours a day there is shooting and shelling.”
This leads us to ask, “Why would anyone ever drive through a city in which roads are closed, bullets are flying, and bombshells are exploding?” In Pastor Awabdeh’s view, “This is the time for the church to help; time to support the refugees. Who else can give hope and spread peace than the Lord?”
The help to which he is referring, at least in part, comes in the form of relief packages. As many of the refugees that arrive in Damascus have absolutely nothing with them, it is essential for them to be given food, medical supplies, and other essential items for everyday life. But in order to distribute these relief packages, Alliance Church first has to purchase the items that go inside, and this is where dangerous drives come into play.
“Sometimes it takes two weeks to have enough of a product,” says Pastor Awabdeh. “Sometimes we do this in unconventional ways. For example, instead of buying the oil in small bottles, we buy it in gallons and we fill bottles with oil to distribute. For many products we have to go to the outskirts of the city and that is very risky. Sometimes we make agreements that we pay something extra to have people bring the products, and then it is their risk.”
However the products are secured, risk is involved. Yet the ministry in Syria continues for the Christians that remain. According to a VOM prayer update from April 12, their partners in Syria, like Pastor Edward Awabdeh, are seeing the situation worsen. Recently, a bomb destroyed their apartment and small bookstore, costing them around $10,000 in rent and literature.
“‘Any blessed news? Yes!’ the partner wrote. ‘We are still here, thankful for the protection of our Lord. We had the blessed chance to distribute food packages to 60 families.’ This contact also still has three active Bible classes in the region.”
Let us take a lesson from our Syrian brothers and sisters. We may not be facing bomb shells and gun shots, but are we willing to risk it all for the sake of the ministry God has given us? Are we willing to spread the gospel even when faced with opposition? Are we actively sharing our faith? Sharing this good news, of course, is at the heart of the mission Christ has given to His church in Syria and in the United States. In the words of Pastor Awabdeh, loving people in their suffering is ultimately “a tool to open hearts for the gospel.”
So let’s remember to pray for believers in Syria as they use the tools they have to share the gospel in their war-torn country. At the same time, let’s follow their example and engage in this ministry of gospel proclamation no matter what the risk.
Posted on April 10th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
We’ve all heard about North Korea’s threats of war in the news. You may also have heard about the persecution of Christians there. North Korea, according to Open Doors’ World Watch List, is the country in which Christians are most persecuted. In fact, it has been first on the list for 11 years in a row now.
According to a recent report from Open Doors, we must pray for our fellow believers in North Korea now more than ever. As the country seems to be ramping up for war, prices for emergency food and supplies are “skyrocketing.” The atmosphere is “war-like.”
North Korean Christians are asking us to pray for them.
Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra briefly sums up how we can pray for these already-persecuted brothers and sisters: “We must respond now to the Christian leaders’ request to pray for them. Pray for Kim Jong-Un; that God will work in his heart and he will pursue peace and not war. Pray for wisdom for leaders in the United States, South Korea and China. Pray for Christians who are put in even more danger due to war preparations. Pray families will find food to feed their families. Finally, pray that no matter what happens Christians will remain strong in their faith.”
You are currently browsing the archives for the Pray for the Persecuted category.
- Reaching the Unreached (69)
- Well Said (59)
- Voices from the Past (56)
- Featured Resource (51)
- Platt Excerpts (45)
- Videos (34)
- Interviews (24)
- Christmas/Advent (18)
- Pray for the Persecuted (17)
- Featured (15)
- Multiply (12)
- Current Events (12)
- Secret Church (11)
- Conferences (8)
- Uncategorized (6)
- Threads (6)
- About Radical (5)
- Follow Me (5)
- Biblical Insights (4)
- Black History Month (3)