We Must Not Forget the Persecuted Church
There is a little verse in the book of Hebrews that we often overlook. It reads, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies” (Hebrews 13:3). And while this verse can be applied to prison ministry in general, in context, it is referring specifically to those who are imprisoned and suffering because of their Christian faith. Hebrews exhorts us to remember them.
Our Family is Hurting
Yet it is all too easy for us to forget about our brothers and sisters who are suffering hardship and deprivation and imprisonment and torture and death, simply because they are followers of Jesus.
After all, our own lives are more than busy, and there is an endless stream of distractions vying for our attention. As for our persecuted spiritual family in other nations, for the most part, they are out of sight and out of mind.
That’s why I’m writing this article: to stir our consciences and jar our sensitivities. This is our family, and they are hurting. At the least, we could offer a prayer on their behalf.
Christians in Nigeria Killed and Abducted
I regularly receive emails from Joanne C., who serves as a missionary with our organization in Nigeria, teaching impoverished children to read and write and helping equip others to teach. Her emails tell a consistent story of terrible suffering for the faith.
Earlier this week, she sent me an article with the latest tragic news:
Bandits have attacked Haske Baptist Church in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, killing eight people while several worshipers were abducted.
An unspecified number of worshipers also sustained varying degrees of injuries with a medical doctor, Zakariah Dogo Yaro of the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, among those killed during the incident.
Countless thousands of Christians have been killed in Nigeria in recent years. Perhaps their lives are more important than the latest TV episode of our favorite series or the latest sports update? Perhaps we could learn about their suffering and offer our prayers and our support?
If the tables were turned and we were the ones being butchered and killed, wouldn’t it strike us as heartless and cruel if the rest of the Christian world was completely unconcerned about our suffering? How could this possibly reflect the heart of God for His children?
16-Year-Old Christian Girl Kidnapped by Muslim Men and Converted by Force
I also received an email this week from a pastor in Pakistan. He wrote:
Today, I am so heartbroken. One more 16 years Christian girl is kidnapped early morning by Muslim guys for forced conversion. But this time she is from my church and our Choir member.
Today, she came to early morning service at 5:30am with her aunt.
Our team is at police station to report police and pleading for justice.
Normally, it goes like this, kidnapping, raping and forced conversion. Please pray for the recovery of this Christian girl. I am sending you pics of us in police station and girl.
I immediately posted prayer alerts on my personal and ministry Facebook pages (with no pictures or further details, for obvious reasons), with thousands responding and hundreds leaving comments and prayers. This was a desperate situation, since the kidnapped girls will be put under extreme pressure to convert, being threatened (or beaten or raped), or with their families likewise threatened. “You convert now, or your family dies!”
When I heard nothing for two days, I wrote back, asking for an update.
The pastor replied, “It is so sad to inform you that they have converted her to Islam. I heard when she came to court to give statement she was trembling. She was forced to give the statement that she is Muslim now. I am so sad and mad. Please keep praying for us. We are trying to go to high court but don’t know result there yet.”
He added, “Every month 25-30 girls are kidnapped and forcefully converted. We always ask same question how someone become so fond of their religion in few days. But courts are blinded.”
What if that was your daughter or granddaughter or sister or friend? What if that was the young woman you planned to marry? And who can imagine the trauma that this Christian teenager, forced to make a public confession of Islam, is experiencing now?
Remember Believers Who are Persecuted and be Strengthened Alongside Them
It is true that the church often grows stronger under persecution. As expressed by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, perhaps the most famous prisoner for Christ of the last century, “Persecution has always produced a better Christian — a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet.”
At the same time, persecution can be brutal and terribly costly. At the least, we who still enjoy great religious liberty can remember our brothers and sisters around the world who, at this very moment, are paying a great price for their faith.
You can even watch the powerful, moving, and inspiring story of Pastor Wurmbrand’s life online for free. It will light a fresh fire in your heart to stand tall for the Lord, regardless of cost or consequence.
All around the globe today, even in the midst of oppressive countries like North Korea and Afghanistan and others, the church of Jesus is growing, often against all odds.
Let us do our part by remembering those in chains for the gospel. It will make us better people in the process, too.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.