Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Midweek Links: Prayer for the Persecuted

My husband's parents served as missionaries to a Muslim population in a closed country, so the persecuted churches around the world are a subject very close to my heart and we pray for them as a family. We may not all be called to go minister in countries where Christians are in danger, but I believe very strongly in supporting and praying for those who face persecution for their faith. It's an issue that does not get much coverage in the secular, mainstream media so I think that many Christians do not even realize what is happening to their brothers and sisters in faith. However, a number of stories have come to light recently that are informative.

Just today, I saw an editorial discussing the arrests of Ethiopian Christians who worshipped in a home church in Saudi Arabia. The strongly Islamic regime that rules Saudi Arabia is well-known, but as the writer points out, the persistent abuse of Christian guest workers in that country receives far less coverage. Sadly, in its dealings with this country, the United States (and most other Western countries for that matter) fail to raise the issue of human rights abuse.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world, hopeful news has come from Iran in the form of news of increased conversions from Islam to Christianity. As much as I am thankful to hear that, my heart aches for those who face arrest and violent reprisals for following Christ. Churches in Iran must meet in secret and Christians face harsh persecution, yet they continue to come to Christ - how can we not be moved to prayer for them?

Persecution is not limited to the Middle East. Many know Burma/Myanmar is currently ruled by a repressive military regime. However, far fewer know the story of the Christian minorities living there who face persecution and church burnings by government forces. Thanks to a presentation at a church meeting I was able to learn about the work of groups such as Farthest Corners in this region, and I continue to keep these groups in my prayers.

And then there's Africa. So much goes on there, I could do posts just on that region of the world alone. One of my dear college friends is married to a missionary whose work has taken their ever-growing family all over Africa, from the Congo to Kenya to Sudan. I know that they and the people they serve frequently encounter danger as a result of their beliefs. Christians in Kenya have faced rising persecution from Muslim groups, and Christians in Sudan have faced a Muslim campaign to wipe out the faith. I am thankful for organizations such as Persecution Project, World Vision and others that work with persecuted Christians and also work to shine a light on the abuses some Christians face.

How do you pray for Christians facing persecution? How do you teach your children about it? Do you have any stories of the persecuted church to share?

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