November -Pursecuted Church

November 2005

Imagine living in Indonesia. This land is famous for jungles, coffee, breath-taking beaches, and varied and beautiful ethnic groups. Pretend that you are in high school in Indonesia. Actually, you attend a Christian high school in a country with the largest Muslim population on the planet. Imagine walking to school one beautiful morning while the sun is shining and the birds singing in the trees. Your two best friends walk along next to you. What would you be talking about? Family, homework, sports?

Now, imagine seeing masked men running out of the forest on the side of the road. They advance towards you and grab you. Are you scared? What do you say? What do you do?

On October 29th, female students from a private Christian high school were ambushed while walking through a cocoa plantation in Poso Kota subdistrict on their way to class. The rural area is close to the provincial capital of Poso, about 1,000 miles northeast of the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The ambushers were Muslim men. Unfortunately, there's not easy way to say the outcome of this attack. Three girls were killed…beheaded. Reports say that one to four others were also injured.

Take a minute. Don't just gloss over this as another event in the string of many. Don't confuse it with the latest slasher movie or Rambo III. This happened 2 days ago (I am writing on the 31st of October). This REALLY happened. How do you feel? Helpless, hopeless, scared, ticked-off. I have a mixture of all of the above.

This is one recent event in a two thousand year history of Christians losing their lives for their belief. It's nothing new, but it's also something that should never feel common-place. It seems worlds away from us in the United States. For us, persecution means being laughed at or left out. But for a large portion of the world, in fact, a growing majority of the world's Christians, this is something all too real. Persecution is actually on the rise in the world. Every year, there are more and more Christian martyrs. Each consecutive year registers a new record for the number of Christians losing their lives for Christ. It sounds weird to us in the Western Church. The passages in the Bible saying that Christians will be persecuted and killed seems a little archaic to us. But, maybe it shouldn't. For much of the world's Christians, they actually believe those verses, and they find hope in Scripture's encouragements like:

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you, and persecute you, and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:10-12

There are 22 verses in the New Testament that uses the word persecution. 14 other verses refer to trials faced by Christians. The word kill is used 79 times. Attack is used 4 times. This is a little bit different view of the New Testament that we hear preached so often. Maybe it's because we really don't suffer for our faith. If we did, do you think that our churches would be as big? I don't know.

November 13th is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This is a day where the believers around the world ban together to lift up our brothers and sisters who are suffering for Christ. We are asking the Lord to give them comfort, deliverance, and perseverance. You can find tons of info on the web about praying for the persecuted. Take the time to do a little research and lift up our brothers and sisters in chains. They need our prayer, and we need their faith. The New Testament talks about persecution as a good thing…a blessing. This is a blessing that we have gone without, and it's a loss to our faith. Let us hurt with those who are hurting, cry with those who are crying, and take their cause before the throne of God. Here is a sight that focuses on the persecuted Church and this particular link will take you directly to a resource kit that you can have them send you. Our challenge to you is that you would lead a time of prayer for the persecuted Church on the 13th. Invite your church, campus ministry, and lost friends to take part in this. What a testimony of faith and the worthiness of God.

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-Extreme Devotion image borrowed fromVoice of the Martyrs: