For many in the West, it is uncomfortable to talk about the persecuted Church around the world. While we may face ridicule and discrimination to one degree or another, we have no reference point for the brutality inflicted against our brothers and sisters in far-off countries. Much like the television commercials depicting starving children or animal shelters, the images are hard to look at so we close our eyes, mute the sound, or change the channel.
We know these things exist but we would rather not think about them. But our discomfort does not change the reality of what is happening to our brothers and sisters. Imagine if it was your flesh and blood sibling who was enduring such things. Would you not keep them in the front of your mind and do everything in your power to help and encourage them? Then why are we so reluctant to discuss and bring attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
When Jesus was ministering and was told His mother and brothers were waiting to see Him, He pointed to those following Him and said, “These are my mother and brothers” (Matthew 12:46-50). His point was those who follow Him are as much His family as those related by birth. He considered spiritual relationships to supersede blood relationships. We must do the same.
Our concern for our fellow believers reveals much about our hearts. If we ignore them, we ignore those whom Jesus loves. If we do nothing to help, we are like the priest and the countryman who passed by the beaten man in the ditch without stopping to help (Luke 10:30-37). It is our duty as believers in Christ to look after those in our spiritual family. When one of us hurts, we should all hurt. We won’t achieve this if we refuse to open our eyes and see what is happening in the world.
Few of us have the option to minister to our persecuted family in person, but pray for those who do. Support them financially so they can, in turn, support the persecuted. If you can go, do so. The rest of us can and must pray. Prayer is effective. Recently, an unprecedented number of Christians were given an early release from Eritrean prisons. Believers were able to leave Iran undetected before their court date. Bibles survived border guard searches even though they were in plain sight. These things do not happen without prayer and the mercy of God.
We won’t know how to pray if we won’t have the courage to hear the stories. At the end of this post, I will put links to several resources where you can learn more about the persecuted Church. These are our brothers and sisters. We must understand what they are going through so we can know how to pray. And then we must pray. Every day, several times each day. Persecution is spreading and intensifying. We must remember the persecuted. We must not shy away to protect our sensitivities. Our Church family needs us. If we will not sacrifice our time to learn and pray, who will?