Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Persecuted Church

Taken from a web site on the Persecuted Church, we can find: “The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it.”

“We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray.”

Other web sites point to the need for prayer for these countries that have made life very difficult for Believers.

Christian Freedom
International Christian Solidarity
Worldwide Christians in Crisis
Gospel for Asia
Greater Calling
International Christian Concern
Compassion Radio
Iranian Christians International
Jubilee Campaign
Mission India
Open Doors
The Voice of the Martyrs
World Evangelical Alliance
The Last Harvest

One web site also says: “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it. IDOP is a rallying point for Christians across all denominations to stand behind those who suffer for their faith.
We believe that prayer changes lives.

This year join thousands of churches around the world on Sunday, November 9 and send the greatest gift of all—prayer.

Why is the focus this year on children of the persecuted Church?
* Christian girls are kidnapped and forced to I....
* College students risk expulsion or worse if they profess the Word of God.
* Pastors who give their lives for their faith, leave behind traumatized children.”

Believers in Pakistan, Laos, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, India…others around the world. Over 200,000,000 Believers area finding persecution a day to day reality and that number is really low...

Why this problem? 2 Timothy 3:12 & has some answers.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
テモテへの手紙二 / 3章 12節 キリスト・イエスに結ばれて信心深く生きようとする人は皆、迫害を受けます。
Hebrews 11:36-39 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.
ヘブライ人への手紙 / 11章 36節 また、他の人たちはあざけられ、鞭打たれ、鎖につながれ、投獄されるという目に遭いました。彼らは石で打ち殺され、のこぎりで引かれ、剣で切り殺され、羊の皮や山羊の皮を着て放浪し、暮らしに事欠き、苦しめられ、虐待され、 荒れ野、山、岩穴、地の割れ目をさまよい歩きました。世は彼らにふさわしくなかったのです。

A look into the past…: China's Boxer Rebellion
During China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and in front of that one gate placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot. Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eighth student, a young girl, refused to commit the sacrilegious act. Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose and moved carefully around the cross, and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining ninety-two students followed her to the firing squad.
From~Today in the Word, Feb. 89, p. 17

It cost something to follow Jesus. If it doesn’t cost you yet…it still might.

You may have heard that this Gift of Salvation is free. Is it? It Cost ... It cost Mary and Joseph the comforts of home during a long period of exile in Egypt to protect the little babe. It cost mothers, in and around Bethlehem, the massacre of their babies by the cruel order of Herod. It cost the shepherds the complacency of their shepherd's life, with the call to the manger and to tell the good news. It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts and changed lives. It cost the early Apostles and the early church persecution and sometimes death. It cost missionaries of Christ untold suffering and hardship to spread the Good News. It cost Christian martyrs in all ages their lives for Christ's sake. More than all this, it cost God the Father His own Son, He sent Him to the earth to save men. It cost Jesus a life of sacrifice and service, a death cruel and unmatched in history. It has a price!!!
~Source unknown

Pray for young women around the world. Many are taken and forced to marry much older men when they are not yet teenagers.
Along with the forced marriages, they are forced to become followers of Islam.

Our response: PRAYER

So often, when faced with hardships or pain, we ask the Lord to remove these adversities. Others ask God to strengthen their back to carry the load He has for them.

When we live in anticipation of seeing Jesus and hearing Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of your Lord,” we can endure suffering. Why? Because such a focus helps us realize that the worst thing that happens to us here and now can never separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. With our focus not on self but Jesus, we more fully realize the truth of 2 Corinthians 4:17: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Taken from ~<>

What is needed in our churches today is a Theology of Suffering.

How Not to Respond During Suffering. The Lord not only teaches us how to respond, but now not to respond when we are suffering. Here are some ways He mentions.
1. Don’t be afraid, for He is with us. Isa.41:10. See John 14:27, 1 Pet. 3:14
2. Don’t be ashamed to suffer as a Christian. 1 Pet. 4:16
3. Don’t be dismayed, for He is our God. Isa. 41:10
4. Don’t be fainthearted, because the Lord goes with us. Deut. 20:3
5. Don’t be overcome by evil; overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:21
6. Don’t be surprised at painful trials, as though something strange were happening to us. 1 Pet. 4:12
7. Don’t complain. Num. 11:1
8. Don’t disown God. 2 Tim. 2:12
9. Don’t do evil by turning away from God. Ps. 18:21
10. Don’t fret, because it leads only to evil. Ps. 37:8
11. Don’t fret when the wicked succeed. Ps. 37:7
12. Don’t get angry. Ps. 37:8
13. Don’t grumble. Ps. 106.25
14. Don’t let our hearts be troubled. John 14:1
15. Don’t shrink back. Heb. 10:39
16. Don’t throw away our confidence. Heb. 10:35

How to Relate to God’s Word in Suffering God’s Word is a wonderful resource when we are hurting. But we must consciously make use of it, in ways the Lord shows us in it. Here are some ways God teaches us to relate to His Word.

1. Delight in it. Ps. 119:92,143
2. Don’t forget it. Ps. 119:61,83,109
3. Don’t forsake it. Ps. 119:87
4. Don’t stray from it. Ps. 119:110,157
5. Find comfort in it. Ps. 119:52
6. Keep His commands. Ps. 119:115
7. Hope in it. Ps. 119:81,114, 130.5
8. Let His promises comfort us in suffering. Ps. 119:50
9. Love it. Ps. 119:165
10. Meditate on it. Ps. 119:78
11. Ponder it. Ps. 119:95
12. Remember the word of encouragement. Heb. 12:5
13. See the promises & welcome them from a distance. Heb. 11:1
14. Tremble at it. Ps. 119:161

Please pray for the Believers who find themselves in differcult times as they face persecution on a day in, day out reality. Pray that their hearts would remain strong. Pray also for those who are inflicting harm on them, that they would find mercy and open their hearts to the Savior!

  • Unity - 一致(いっち)
  • Growth - 成長
  • Boldness - 大胆さ
  • Power - 力
  • Forgiving Spirit - 寛容な心
  • Purity - 純粋
  • Leadership - 新しいリーダーシップ
  • New Believers - 新しいクリスチャン
  • Families - 家族
  • Evangelism - 伝道(でんどう)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The Persecuted Church is a Growing Church

Next week: Lord willing, How did Paul respond to his sufferings and how can we develop a Theology of Suffering?