Posts Tagged ‘Pray’
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. 24:10, 12). 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.
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)
Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Jonathan
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.
- Central African Republic
Posted on May 1st, 2014 by Jonathan
As we commit to pray for Turkey throughout May, here are some compelling figures to keep in mind. The following information was taken from Joshua Project and Hope for Turkey–our official prayer focus website. Check HopeForTurkey.com regularly for updates and prayer requests this month, and be sure to take advantage of the 31-day prayer guide.
People Groups: 60
Unreached People Groups: 42
Evangelical Christian: (0.01%); 4,000
Posted on April 30th, 2014 by Jonathan
If you missed Secret Church on Good Friday and have not yet been able to participate in the simulcast replay, then you may have also missed our prayer focus. Together, throughout the month of May, we’ll be focusing our prayers on the Peoples of Turkey. You can find out about Turkey, the people groups that live there, and the unique culture of the country at HopeForTurkey.com, our official prayer focus website.
To assist you in knowing how to specifically pray, we’d encourage you to use this beautiful 31-day prayer guide. It includes various general topics as well as specific requests.
We are praying with expectancy, excited to see what our Father in heaven does as thousands of people lift up Turkey on a consistent basis for the next 31 days. We hope you’ll join us, starting tomorrow!
The following post originally appeared at Voice of the Martyrs. Let this report guide your prayers for Pastor Zhang, the members the church still imprisoned, and the rest of the church family suffering from threats and opposition. His trial is tomorrow, but be sure to pray today with the time change!
Three of the 12 Nanle County Christian Church members who have been imprisoned since mid-November 2013 have been released, but their pastor still faces a criminal trial on Feb. 12. The three women, Zhao Xiping, 47; Yang Miling, 40; and Sheyin Duanmu, 44, were released on Jan. 24 from Nanle County Detention Center.
Pastor Zhang Shaojie, 49, was arrested on Nov. 16 after a meeting with local government officials. About 20 people who protested the pastor’s arrest were detained or arrested in the following days.
The pastor now faces charges of “fraud” and “gathering a mob to disrupt public order.” Although he was allowed to see his attorney on Jan. 16, government officials have postponed his trial date of Jan. 28 to Feb. 12. Lawyers involved in the Nanle County case have been beaten and even threatened with having their credentials revoked. Local officials have also tried to prevent Zhang and other church members from hiring particular lawyers.
Pastor Zhang’s family and other church members have continued to face persecution from local government authorities. Zhang’s eldest daughter received harassing phone calls in which authorities threatened to “wipe out her entire family” for trying to contact higher authorities and report on the persecution of the church. Fearing for her life, she fled to another town with her husband and 10-month-old child.
Zhang’s youngest daughter was held in the detention center for a short period of time. The family’s Internet service was stopped and the tires on their vehicle were slashed in apparent attempts to prevent them from connecting with those outside the Nanle County area. The local government has also prohibited church members from worshiping at the church.
Among those still imprisoned is Wu Guishan, the 43-year-old husband of Zhao Xiping, one of the women just released from the detention center. The couple was detained in November because of their interaction with the church. They have two school-aged children. Their eldest daughter dropped out of school to try to locate Wu, who was taken by authorities when he tried to appeal his case. His location is currently unknown. The couple’s 15-year-old son was taken to an orphanage while his parents were imprisoned.
Posted on January 15th, 2014 by Jonathan
If you haven’t already seen, the 2014 World Watch List is out. With about twice as many Christian deaths due to persecution in 2013 as there were in 2014, watching where and how these violent trends grow is more important now than ever before. We ought to be well acquainted with the suffering of our brothers and sisters overseas so that we can better pray for and minister to them.
Sadly, North Korea’s prison camps and public executions earned it a number one spot for the 12th consecutive year. Syria, accounting for over 1,200 Christian deaths, continued it’s rapid climb from number 36 two years ago, coming in at number three in 2014. This is largely due to the ongoing civil war in which almost half of the fighting rebels come from Islamic extremist backgrounds. Overall, it’s hard to ignore the impact that Islamic extremism has had on the persecution of Christians. It is the main source of persecution in 36 of the top 50 countries ranked, as well as the reason that Bangladesh and Central African Republic were both newly added to the list.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the list. Remember the believers that live in these places and pray for them. Also, note that this is where the gospel is urgently needed… so pray for bold gospel proclamation resulting in the salvation of the persecutors.
This post originally appeared on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on the persecuted church and future Secret Church gatherings.
Posted on January 2nd, 2014 by Jonathan
Last month, the issue of Christian persecution was brought before the UK House of Commons. To those of you who, like me, may initially find it puzzling that such a topic would be discussed and debated in the British Parliament, this sobering statistic will make it clear why: an estimated 200 million Christians will be persecuted this year, while around 500 million live in “dangerous neighborhoods.” In the words of Member of Parliament Bob Neill, specifically addressing persecution of Christians living in the Arab world (perhaps the most dangerous of “neighborhoods”), “It is legitimate, as a matter of policy, for us to seek to use our leverage to change that situation.” However the issue is addressed, it is here before us all as 2014 begins.
Thankfully, this global issue is catching the eye of more than just the British Parliament. Recently on BreakPoint, Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet discussed a new book by John Allen titled The Global War on Christians. In a short four-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) Metaxas and Stonestreet discussed a variety of topics covered in the book, ranging from the millions of Christians living in Muslim contexts, to Christian persecution from people with varied religious beliefs, to the rise of persecution in the West. If this short series doesn’t make you want to read Allen’s book, it will at least awaken your heart to the suffering of our brothers and sisters for whom persecution is far from myth or rumor.
And there are many who call persecution of Christians just that: myth and rumor. In reality, the notion that Christians aren’t persecuted or marginalized is the real myth. Timothy Shah (Fox News) recently showed this in an article that pinpointed some of the things that “cloud popular thinking” and make the general public blind to the hostility that Christians all over the world must endure on a daily basis.
All this in mind, here are some reminders for us this January:
- Persecution is real. Let’s be prayerful. (Jam 5:13) (1 Thes 5:17)
- Persecution is growing. Let’s be watchful. (Matt 24:9-13) (Col 4:2)
- Persecution is temporary. Let’s be hopeful. (Rom 8:18)
- Persecution is sometimes a sign of gospel advance. Let’s be thankful. (Phil 1:12-13) (Matt 24:14)
- Persecution is part of our identity with Christ. Let’s be joyful. (Rom 8:16-17)
This post was originally published on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out of updates and information on the persecuted church as well as Secret Church simulcasts.
Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Jonathan
For Christians all over the world, today is a day to celebrate the coming of our Savior. And most of us are free to do that openly. Right now, many are gathering together with loved-ones, singing songs about the coming of the Messiah, feasting, celebrating. In fact, for many of us Christians, taking advantage of this religious freedom doesn’t stop at personal worship in our homes or churches; Christmas is an opportunity for gospel proclamation. We “tell it on the mountain” as we strike up gospel conversations using our seasonal surroundings, from our front yard nativity scenes featuring baby Jesus to our “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers. However, there are many believers who pay a high price for associating with Jesus during Christmas.
Last Christmas in Nigeria, 36 Christians were killed between December 24 and December 30, 6 of those deaths occurring at the hands of gunmen during a Christmas Eve service. Christmas 2011 saw the death of 44 Christian Nigerians.
These tragic killings happened in a place where people are often murdered for following Jesus, but Nigeria is just one of many places where such atrocities occur. And most instances of persecution don’t end up in believers’ deaths. Sometimes worse, their persecutors often make their lives miserable. So they limp on, repeatedly counting the cost and, with joy, daily taking up their cross.
Today, let us pray for these dear brothers and sisters. Whether they find themselves homeless and outcast in the Middle East or face-to-face with violent opposition in places like Nigeria or the Central African Republic, they need our prayers for God’s strength in their lives.
Over 2,000 years ago, when thousands of baby boys were murdered at the hands of King Herod, it was made clear that suffering and death were not to be strangers to Christmas. After all, Christ was born in the manger to die on the cross. And as encouraging confirmation to our brothers and sisters suffering this Christmas, let us remember Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 15:20: “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” God fulfilled His glorious purposes through Christ’s suffering, and in Jesus, we can be sure that God will do the same for Christ’s followers.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us… And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:16-18, 28-29
This post can be found at the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on Secret Church and the persecuted believers around the world.
Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonathan
Ronnie Smith, chemistry teacher at the International School Benghazi in Libya, was shot and killed yesterday morning while going on a jog. He was a member of the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. Below is an open letter regarding this tragedy, posted to the church on Austin Stone’s website. Let us join them in grief and prayer as we are inspired to emulate the example of sacrificial service Ronnie gives us, to the glory of God among all nations.
It is with a very heavy heart that we write to you today about the loss of our dear brother Ronnie Smith. Ronnie was shot and killed in Benghazi while going for a morning jog. We don’t fully understand the motives of his attackers. He had been teaching chemistry at the International School Benghazi in Libya for the last year and a half.
Before moving to Benghazi, Ronnie was a member of the church staff at the Austin Stone. Ronnie, his wife Anita, and his son are dearly loved by our church family; many of us knew Ronnie and his family well. Ronnie and his family were planning to spend time before Christmas with us here in Austin. Anita and their son had returned to the U.S. and are safe with family. Ronnie, out of a sense of dedication, had stayed in Libya to be with his students through their midterm exams.
Ronnie and his family moved to Benghazi to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people. Ronnie loved Libya and was dedicated to his students to help them aspire to their dreams. Ronnie’s greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.
Ronnie was a brother in Christ and a faithful servant of this church for many years. Although we grieve because we have lost a friend, a husband, and a father, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has a greater purpose than we can imagine right now. Though we don’t fully understand right now, we place our full trust in the one who does until we see our friend again.
For right now, we ask you to:
- Pray for Anita, Hosea, and the rest of Anita and Ronnie’s family
- Grieve for the loss of our brother with the hope of Christ
- Trust that God’s will is perfect and His purposes are good
If you happen to be contacted by news media, please refer them to Dave Barrett, our Executive Pastor.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together…” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
“… follow me.” – Luke 9:23
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