I want to encourage all followers of Jesus to remember our brothers and sisters around the world who are facing mistreatment, persecution, violence, and prison. It’s easy to read their stories, throw up a quick prayer, and move on. Their names can be difficult to pronounce, their cultures foreign to us. But each of these individuals is a man or woman, just like you and me.
They feel fear and pain. Many have families they love and who count on them. They are not so different from us. No, they are just like us. The only difference between us and them is most of us have been blessed to have been born and/or live in countries that afford religious freedom.
Imagine praying in your bedroom quietly with your family and having police or soldiers break into your home, drag you out in front of your children, and subject you to mistreatment for the next several hours. After that, they throw you into a prison cell. These cells are frequently filthy with no proper means of sanitation. As a Christian, you will often be put into cells with radical elements of various religious movements who will inflict further harm on you. You are given no lawyer and allowed no contact with the outside world. Usually, you won’t even know what it is you are being charged with until weeks or months later.
When you finally see a judge, it is often a farce with a foregone conclusion. There is no justice. There are appeals, but they take years and are often postponed without reason. In the interim, you sit in a prison cell facing the daily possibility of violence and sickness with no one to visit you or come to your aid. There is no end in sight. You have no word from your family and do not know if they are suffering the same fate as you or perhaps even worse.
What if this happened to you? How would you respond? Wouldn’t you want to know your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world were praying for you with fervor and diligence? This is our opportunity. As long as we are free to practice our faith, we can come together and pray for our suffering brothers and sisters. We must not squander the freedom with which God have entrusted us. We must not forget our brothers and sisters in chains.
I fear there is a day coming, and probably in my lifetime when the freedoms I have always known will be no more. We cannot take for granted the moment God has given us right now to lift our family in prayer. Some have been imprisoned for decades. Some are kept in small steel boxes in blistering heat, and they keep some in underground dungeons. All are people just like you and me. They need us to never forget them. We need to remember them every day in prayer. Someday it may be us who are the persecuted. We must be ready, and until that day, we must never forget our brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus. Please pray today and every day from this day forward.