There are 86,400 seconds in a day—there are 1440 minutes in a day—there are 24 hours in a day—there are 365 days in a year. In any of those seconds, minutes, hours or days, there are Christians around the world suffering real existential persecution against them as they hold to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was reminded of this, while walking in my neighborhood, reading the word of God, and praying. As I walked, I was reminded that it was night in North Korea, where thousands of Christians live in constant threat of imprisonment, torture, or death, for being a follower of Jesus Christ.
I pondered the inhumane conditions our North Korean brethren live in, in concentration camps, where they starve to death and have repeated torturous and abominable experiments performed upon them. These circumstances never let up or abate and no matter what time of day it is, our brethren in this country need prayer. Therefore, I prayed for them, hopefully with wisdom from God’s Spirit (James 1:1-5).
This state of persecution is true of Christians in Iran, where being baptized into Christ, for a Muslim, means life in prison. Should that person not recant their faith, they will be executed for their faith. These conditions for our Iranian Christian brethren are consistent and forcefully executed.
As we sleep, eat, read the Bible, and recreate ourselves, Christians in India face a rising and powerful persecution against them economically, socially, and religiously, where their lives and families are at risk daily. This is true of Christians in Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and most middle eastern countries—it is true of our brethren in China, most countries in southeast Asia, Mexico, Eritrea, Nigeria, Mali, most of the African continent, and even Israel.
For most Americans, the plight of our persecuted brethren is either hidden or drowned out, by our lack of perspective and ignorance of the doctrine of Christian suffering. American Christians, in general believe that God will rapture His church before it suffers. This is a tremendously damaging error influencing the church in the U. S.
The reason is that scripture is clear that anyone living godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12). This truth lines up with Christ’s own words in John 15:18-6:3 and John 16:33.
The error is compounded by a lack of understanding concerning what persecution is. For Christians in America, being lumped into political conservatism, the difficulty faced is not persecution, but rising limitations politically. It is true, this trouble will eventually lead to outright persecution of those who follow Christ, but that is not yet the norm and consistent standard. Christians in America have not yet suffered legal persecution as the rule.
Although we lack this understanding in practice, that should not hinder us following the word of God, when it deals with our Christian brethren around the world suffering for the faith. In fact, our walking in real empathy and compassion for them, is essential for their standing for Christ. It is also essential in us eventually walking out our faith, in the persecution coming to this nation.
Hebrews 13:1-3 Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.
We are to be informed concerning the plight of persecuted Christians, remembering their chains. We empathize with them so that we may eventually feel as though we are chained with them. This is a discipline we need to grow in. How?
We need to place ourselves inside their suffering, thinking on them to the degree that we understand their fears, anxieties, and weaknesses. This takes a person who denies themselves the normal unthought-out practices of life.
Luke 9:23-26 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels
This self-denial spoken of by the Lord Jesus Christ may mean we literally die on his behalf. Yet, if it is not first experienced in us denying the ease and comfort we seek without thought and which are readily available to Christians in America, we will never be able to stand in the day of our trial.
The more we walk and behave without thought, the harder it is to even focus on hearing the testimonies of the persecuted, because they seem almost like bad fairytales. I assure you, the plight of the persecuted is no make-believe scenario.
Only when we step inside the life and testimony of the persecuted, can we truly pray for them. If we fail to do this now, when our time of tribulation is fully come, we will have no reservoir of experience, in the Spirit, to aid us in walking through the persecution against us.
May God lead us to recognize throughout the day, the plight of our persecuted brethren, that we may learn to pray for them and grow a foundation of faith and thankfulness towards our God and Father.
For testimonies on the persecuted church worldwide visit the Voice of the Martyrs website www.persecution.com and sign up for their email icommit to prayer weekly newsletter.