Archive for the ‘Pray for the Persecuted’ Category

  1. A Prayer for the Afflicted Saints of Iraq

    Posted on August 13th, 2014 by Jonathan

    The following prayer was originally posted by Rick Phillips on Reformation 21.

    Our Father in heaven, the sovereign and almighty God, the faithful covenant-keeper and Savior, we plead to you on behalf of our suffering fellow believers in Iraq.  Cast your eye upon them and have mercy to uphold and defend your flock.  Overthrow the evil of their persecutors and strengthen the faith of those suffering tribulation for the name of Jesus.

    Father, as of old you caused the enemies of your people to destroy one another in answer to the plea of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:23), so now bring discord, division, and self-destruction to the jihadist slayers afflicting your people.  Lord, as once you parted the Red Sea to make safe the way of Israel fleeing from Pharaoh’s host (Ex. 14:21-22), open a path to safety for your people fleeing in distress.  Our God, your Word foretells that Satan will make war on the church, all the more because he knows that his end is near (Rev. 12:12).  But as you promised, intervene supernaturally to provide a refuge in the wilderness for the church our enemy is seeking to destroy (Rev. 12:14-16).   Cause your suffering people to conquer by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; strengthen their testimony to Jesus, even under threat of death (Rev. 12:11).

    Our loving Father, Jesus foretold that his people would be hated by all nations and delivered up to tribulation (Mt. 24:9), as we see happening to the saints of Iraq.  Do not permit them to fall away or betray one another,  and keep their love from growing cold (Mt. 24:1012).  Hear the cries of Rachel in Iraq and Kurdistan, weeping for her children (Jer. 31:15).

    God of grace, have mercy on our fellow sinners who persecute your people in the name of a false god.  As once you turned the heart of Saul of Tarsus when he was the chief tormenter of your church (Acts 9:4-5), and as Jesus pled for you to forgive those who tortured him upon the cross (Lk. 23:34), now have mercy on those who crucify and behead the saints in Iraq.  Reveal your grace and glory to them so that they might repent, believe, and be saved.

    Finally, Lord, send your Spirit to inspire Christians who live in comfort and ease, that we might honor the martyrdom of our brothers and sisters by living boldly for Jesus, that we might abominate in ourselves the sins of hatred, lust, and idolatry that we see working so terribly against our brethren, and that we might live more soberly and prayerfully for the cause of Christ in this evil world.

    In the name of him who loves us and has freed us from our sins (Rev. 1:5), whom you have made head over all things for the church (Eph. 1:22), your Son Jesus Christ, we pray.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

  2. 6 Comments

    Take Action: “Looming Humanitarian Catastrophe”

    Posted on August 9th, 2014 by Jonathan

    Yezidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains

    Yezidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains, (CNN)

    Today, the Baptist Press (BP) released a statement urging people to take action on behalf of suffering Iraqis. Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee Mosul. The Islamic State (IS) is persecuting religious minorities of every variety, including the Yazidi people near Sinjar. Said the BP:

    Most pressing is a situation the White House calls a “looming humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding on a mountaintop near the Iraqi city of Sinjar, home to the country’s Yazidi religious minority, where some 50,000 Yazidi refugees are trapped with limited food and water. On Aug. 3, Sunni extremists known as Islamic State or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) seized the city as Sinjar’s Yazidi population fled fearing massacre. Many Iraqis without transportation escaped to the nearby Sinjar Mountains, a barren heap of rock where daytime temperatures can top 120 degrees.

    While the U.S. is dropping some supplies, there is no shortage of need. We would also like to urge you to act in two primary ways.

    1.  Most importantly, pray. God has ordained prayer, and He hears our pleas. Here are the prayer points released by the BP today:

      • Ask the Lord to awaken the world to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Iraq and to provide pathways for Christians and others to respond.
      • Ask God to miraculously protect the Yazidis and other Kurds who fled into the mountains; ask Him to provide a means of rescue and temporary homes for the refugees.
      • Pray that ISIS leaders and soldiers would experience the love of Jesus Christ and that their lives would be transformed.
      • Ask God to preserve and embolden the small remnant of believers in Mosul and Kurdistan, so that one day through their witness, every Iraqi might have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

    2. Give. When it comes to crises like this, sufficient resources are critical.

    BP: “Help respond to Iraq’s refugee crisis by donating to the International Mission Board’s general relief fund or by texting imbrelief to 80888, which will donate $10 to that fund. To give through Baptist Global Response, visit gobgr.org/donate or text bgr to 80888.” (More info here)

    UPDATE: For questions about giving to the IMB’s general relief fund, you can call them toll-free at (800) 999-3113 or contact them via their online form. To find out more about giving to Baptist Global Response, go HERE.

    Photo credit

  3. The Worlds Top Church-Destroying Countries

    Posted on August 7th, 2014 by Jonathan

    The following is from an August 5th Christianity Today article.

    Inside the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to rebuild two monasteries and a church torn down by Stalin about 85 years ago. But as Russia rebuilds churches with one hand, with the other it’s been knocking them down.

    While a campaign in China to de-Christianize city skylines has drawn the most international attention this summer, Pew Research Center recently calculated the world’s 34 countries with the most government destruction of religious property (as of 2012). Three countries topped the list, with 100 or more incidents: China, Russia, and Tajikistan.

    (READ MORE)

    For more on persecution, check out the Secret Church blog.

  4. Persecution in the News

    Posted on August 1st, 2014 by Jonathan

    This past week has seen a flurry of blog posts, articles, videos, and teachings on persecution and Christian suffering that are all deserving of attention. So instead of our normal  Friday “Well Said” feature, we’re going to point you to a number of these pieces, all centered on the global plight of suffering and/or persecuted Christians . . .

    The Persecuted Church
    Led by Mindy Belz, this TGC Women’s Conference workshop is very informative.

    VIDEO: David Platt on global Christian persecution
    This 7 minute ERLC conversation covers the effects of persecution and our response to it.

    American Doctor with Ebola Displays Heroism
    Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are battling Ebola, a deadly disease they contracted while helping other stricken with it.

    Meriam Ibrahim, Freed from Sudan, Plans to Settle in New Hampshire
    The woman who was imprisoned for becoming a Christian and sentenced to death in Sudan has been freed.

    5 Facts About Christian Persecution
    Joe Carter of the ERLC offers a brief survey of global persecution.

    Stay or Go When Ebola Breaks Out?
    Robert Cutillo offers some helpful principles regarding risk and following Christ.

    State Department Releases Report on International Religious Freedom
    “In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory.”

    Christian Persecution Bulletin Insert
    From the ERLC, this could be a helpful tool this Sunday: Persecution Sunday.

    For Sale: Mother Without Child: $800 (Part 1)
    Here is a stirring account of one North Korean woman’s journey to faith . . . and out of North Korea.

    Where Are The Iraqi Refugees Now?
    Under threat of death, ISIS has expelled all Christians living in Mosul. Where are they now?

    They Know Not What They Do
    “Sin has darkened the mind of the church’s enemies.”

  5. Conversation with David Platt on Global Persecution

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 by Jonathan

    Dan Darling (of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) talks with David Platt about the persecution of Christians worldwide.

  6. Persecution: The Basics

    Posted on July 21st, 2014 by Jonathan

    Every once in a while, it’s good to get a refresher on concepts we generally think we understand. When’s the last time you’ve heard a good explanation of persecution?

    Below, you can listen to a good overview of what persecution is, how it may look, and why it occurs from Jonathan, the (well-traveled) Pastor of Global Disciple-Making at The Church at Brook Hills.



    When it comes to the persecution of Christians, Open Doors is also a great resource. They have a good general overview of persecution as well as country-specific information.

    ~ The goal of persecution is to silence witness. ~

  7. Believers in Iraq

    Posted on June 18th, 2014 by Jonathan

    If you’ve been keeping up with the news over the last few weeks, you know that the situation in Iraq is quickly worsening at the hands of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The al-Qaeda offshoot is one of the most extreme Islamist organizations in the world, and they are rapidly overtaking cities throughout the country; the most recent to fall under their control–Baqouba–is only 40 miles from the capitol city, Baghdad.

    Currently, ISIS also occupies Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. That siege induced 500,000 of Mosul’s 1.8 million residents to flee. Among those who fled were Iraqi troops and up to 1,000 Christians (almost emptying Mosul of believers).

    Christians in Iraq have become increasingly sparse over the last 25 years, decreasing from around 1.2 million to 300,000. ISIS brings a whole new threat to the already hostile environment of Christians living in Iraq. It is feared that ISIS will impose strict anti-Christian laws and restrictions on believers who fall under their authority … a fear that increases with each ISIS gain.

    Christianity Today’s “Thousands Flee as Terrorists Take Over Iraq’s Christian Heartland” was the main source for this story.

    (HT: Trevin Wax)

  8. It almost seems inappropriate to label it a “top” ten list. As a believer, you’d never want to see your country come in at number one.

    Over a 17-month period, the World Watch List team set out to specifically research which ten countries were most violent toward Christians. Different than the World Watch List–which takes into account political restrictions and social pressures–the new list is  based only on the number of persecution acts. Such incidents include physical abuse, destruction of property, and killings. North Korea, because it was impossible to collect data from the country, is not included. Four continents are represented in their final rankings.

    1. Nigeria
    2. Syria
    3. Egypt
    4. Central African Republic
    5. Mexico
    6. Pakistan
    7. Colombia
    8. India
    9. Kenya
    10. Iraq

    For a brief description about the violence in each of these countries, read the full World Watch Top 10 Violence List. If you want to see Open Doors’ analysis of the list, click HERE.

  9. Christian Persecution Is Unjust Too

    Posted on May 22nd, 2014 by Jonathan

    Nigerian Man

    In a recent article for the Christian Post, Chelsen Vicari points out a group of people who are often the object of gross injustice and even more often overlooked–Christians. Reading that sentence might make you cringe, because even if you agree with it, you know that most people don’t. There’s an unspoken rule in the world of social injustice: don’t make much of suffering Christians. But the reality is, people all over the world are the object of egregious hate crimes and violence because they are Christians.

    Vicari pointed this out in light of the recent #BringBackOurGirls social media outcry over Boko Haram kidnapping almost 300 Nigerian school girls. “And so the problem,” Vicari points out, “is not that young evangelicals focus heavily on injustices like human trafficking. The problem is that too many only focus on issues like human trafficking, because they are deemed politically correct.”

    Simply put, everyone is willing to fight against human slavery and sex trafficking (both of which are feared to be possible for the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram). Doing so will even make you look good. But to go to bat for marginalized or mistreated Christians… well that’s just not too trendy. In the words of Vicari, “Unfortunately, young evangelicals (and the broader world) did not take notice of this tragedy because the girls were Christians, but because their captors intend to sell them into human trafficking. Something is very wrong with this ‘social justice’ scenario.”

    Here is an extended excerpt from her article:

    Among Millennials, the term “persecution” is a dirty word when applied to Christians. Society continues to paint Christians as “clamoring and crying” over nothing when we decry discrimination targeted our way.

    Let’s face it, if media outlets were calling the Boko Haram travesty what it is, a matter of severe Christian persecution by Islamists terrorists, then many of us Millennial would shy away from voicing our outcry, all for fear of being called Islamophobic. Why do I suspect this? Because kidnapping Christian girls is not the first attack by Boko Haram. Far from it. Yet the evangelical world has remained largely silent.

    Hanging on her office wall, Faith McDonnell, the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Director of Religious Liberty programs, has a calendar documenting all of Boko Haram’s attacks on Nigerian Christians during 2012. It was put together by the Nigeria Working Group Washington, Justice for Jos+ Project, and Jubilee Campaign. To list just a few of a myriad of Christian-targeted assaults, the calendar included:

      • January 20, 2012 -Boko Haram attacked and killed more than 200, including Christians
      • March 11, 2012 -a Boko Haram suicide bomber attacked a Catholic Church, killing 13
      • July 7-9, 2012 – 50 Christians were killed, 187 homes were burned and 200 families were displaced. Boko Haram took responsibility.

    This is what injustice looks like.

    Millennial evangelicals have big hearts. We know that social justice is an important facet of Christianity. So why are we ignoring the voices of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being harassed, kidnapped, arrested, beaten, beheaded, and burned alive for their faith?

    Read Chelsen Vicari’s entire article here.

  10. Since Islamist militant group Boko Haram abducted 200 Nigerian school girls last month, a social media storm as erupted to #BringBackOurGirls. Yet this was not the group’s solitary act of violence. Far from it. For years, Boko Haram has been actively killing people in Nigeria, and Christians are among their favorite targets.

    Below is the story of one such act, reported by NBC News and recounted by Denny Burk. Even as you feel the weight of this story, be encouraged by the grace of God in Habila Adamu and the worthiness of Christ. May we be driven to our knees in prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters, for the steadfastness of our own faith, and for the advancement of the gospel.

    NBC News has the story of a Nigerian Christian man who was shot by Boko Haram terrorists for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. This man’s name is Habila Adamu, and he was attacked by the same group of terrorists who recently abducted 200 Nigerian school girls. They broke into his home, shot him, and left him for dead all in full view of his wife and son. It’s a miracle that he is alive. It’s even more a miracle that he stood.

    You must read his story in his own words. Below is an extended excerpt from the NBC News report:

    A father who was shot point-blank in the face by Boko Haram recounted how the militants asked whether he was “prepared to die as a Christian” and then left for dead.

    Habila Adamu, 40, was so badly wounded in the attack that he said goodbye to his wife as blood poured from a gaping wound.

    The father-of-one said the April 15 capture by Boko Haram of more than 200 girls from a boarding school brought back painful memories of the night he was shot and beaten in his home.

    “When I heard about those girls I started to pray,” Adamu told NBC News on Tuesday. “Boko Haram have no mercy. All they want to do is drive the Christian community out of northern Nigeria and they won’t stop until they do it.”

    Many of the minority Christians in Yobe province were fearful of Boko Haram because the militants had attacked homes and businesses in the region, according to Adamu.

    “They asked whether I was prepared to die as a Christian … My wife was crying but I could not deny Christ”

    The businessman initially thought they were soldiers on patrol near his home one night in November 2012.

    “But when I saw their robes and AK-47 rifles I knew they were not from the army,” he said. “They told me they were there to do the work of Allah.”

    With his wife Vivian and son David, now aged seven, looking on, four men forced their way indoors and asked whether he was a member of the police force or army. He told them he was not.

    “Then they asked me whether I would convert to Islam and when I refused they asked whether I was prepared to die as a Christian. My wife was crying but I could not deny Christ. I felt powerful, unafraid, I don’t know why.”

    Before he could refuse a second time, a bullet pierced his neck.

    “I fell on the ground,” Adamu said. “They thought I was dead because they stomped on me twice and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ or ‘God is great.’”

    Adamu mustered the strength to talk to his wife before slipping out of consciousness.

    “She was crying so many tears,” he said. “Neither of us thought I would survive so I told her that to live in this world was to live for Christ. I told her to look after our son and herself.”

    “A doctor told my wife there was no point in treating me”

    Recovering her composure, Vivian ran to find help from fellow members of the Christian community – only to find that militants had killed 12 others.

    Too scared to leave the house, she tended to her husband for eight hours. At first light, she was able to arrange transport to a nearby medical center.

    “When they saw the wound, a doctor told my wife there was no point in treating me,” Adamu said. “I had lost so much blood.”

    However, they gave him painkillers and transferred him to the Jos University Hospital, hundreds of miles further south, where doctors funded by the non-profit organization Voice of Martyrs were able to treat him.

    Adamu’s condition gradually stabilized and he was discharged about two weeks later.

    I thank God that He spared Adamu’s life. I thank Him even more that He gave Adamu the courage to stand. Read the rest here.

    “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12

    HT: Denny Burk