By Gary Fallesen
Climbing For Christ
I want to remind you today of the suffering church. In his second letter to Pastor Timothy, written while he was imprisoned in Rome shortly before his death, the great missionary Paul stated: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Jesus told His followers “they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake
” (Luke 21:12
). He said we will “be hated by all nations for my name’s sake
” (Matthew 24:9
Many of our brothers and sisters know this reality. Others will learn about it in the weeks and months to come. Persecution isn’t a possibility, it’s a promise.
Open Doors, a ministry that serves persecuted Christians worldwide, says:
- Each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith;
- Each month 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed;
- Each month 772 forms of violence (such as beating, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages) are committed against Christians.
Today (Nov. 1) is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Normally on this day each year, we hold events where we are based in the U.S. and Canada. Attendance for these events is usually disturbingly poor. I decided this year to try something different. I decided to bring IDOP to you and ask you to lift up the persecuted church wherever you are. Please take a moment to pray for those facing persecution.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:26
, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together
.” We are instructed in Hebrews 13:3
to “remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body
In recent months I have been blessed and humbled to spend time with believers in a small Kurdish church in southeastern Turkey. Today in Turkey, a snap election is being held because in June (while we were on Mission: Ararat 2015), the Islamist party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was stripped of its majority in Parliament mostly because of the success of the country’s Kurdish-dominated party. This resulted in Erdogan becoming increasingly aggressive against the Kurds, renewing a war against Kurdish militants in the name of nationalism, and clamping down on some of the freedom people were enjoying. Pray for the tiny Christian minority (0.3 percent of the 76 million in that Muslim country, according to Joshua Project) managing to exist in Turkey today.
I’ve also spent time with some believers serving in Central and South Asia. Our task there: to engage an unengaged people group in one of the ’stans and learn more about other unengaged people groups in two other nations so they may soon be reached with the Gospel. The church in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan is small and under intense pressure.
Afghanistan is listed as the fifth hardest place to be a Christian by Open Doors’ World Watch List. Pakistan is No. 8 and Uzbekistan is No. 15. We have members in Pakistan and Uzbekistan who are trying to minister to those in need; please pray that they may shine brightly despite the odds against them. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
From ISIS’s brutal slayings of Christians in the Middle East to hostility against the church in northeastern Nigeria to the recent destruction of nine churches and violence against believers in the western Indonesian province of Aceh, there are many to pray for and much to pray about. Please consider taking some time this week to pray and fast for our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church. Think about how they may be suffering, even if such a condition is completely foreign to you. Remember, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
” (Matthew 5:10