Persecuted for the faith series, Part 2: Open Doors CEO David Curry on Church response to persecution
Every first week of November, the Church comes together for an International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church. For many American Christians the reality of the global church is a distant one. Aside from breaking news or an occasional missions Sunday, we may know very little about the testimonies of Christians in restricted countries and so we have no idea how to pray alongside them. In part one, we heard from Todd Nettleton, the Chief of Media Relations and Message Integration for The Voice of the Martyrs and the host of The Voice of the Martyrs Radio.
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In part two, CEO and president of Open Doors David Curry shares how the Church responds to the persecution of some members and shares incredible stories of perseverance through hardship.
Scripture lays out expectations for how the Church is to respond to its members who are suffering persecution. In what ways have you seen the Church reach out to and support its members who are suffering persecution both locally and internationally?
At Open Doors, we have seen the Church support persecuted members in many ways. For example, believers often come alongside the persecuted church by praying, offering financial support, signing advocacy petitions, or sharing persecution stories with others.
When specific needs arise, like when there is a food shortage in some part of the world, members of the global Church often increase giving to provide emergency relief to those impacted.
What stories can you share of how the grace of God has enabled believers to persevere and even thrive through persecution and difficulty?
By God’s grace, we have seen time and again how God gives persecuted believers a supernatural peace and strength to endure even the harshest trials.
Mohammed*, a believer from Somalia, was attacked with a knife by a Muslim friend. Yet, when Open Doors visited him, he said, “It is the only place where I have ever had inner peace. Despite the isolation and persecution, I am at peace. This is why I hold on to Christ. Going back to Islam is not an option.”
Another persecuted believe, Hwa-Young*, shared, “I don’t have any fear of death. I’m a single woman, and if it’s necessary I don’t mind dying for this cause.”
Chandan, a mother and wife from India, told us, “I’d rather die than forsake Jesus.” We know from James 1:2-4 that tests of our faith produce steadfastness. Time and again we see God give believers the boldness and faith to see the gospel as more beautiful than even their own lives.
More of the story here: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray/id-rather-die-than-forsake-jesus/
What do those undergoing persecution need or ask for? How does this sometimes differ from what we assume they need?
The number one request we get from persecuted believers is not for us to help remove them from their trials but for prayer! Many facing persecution consider their circumstances a great opportunity to share their faith, so they request our prayers that they would stand strong. We ask people around the world to pray that those facing persecution remain steadfast in hope and continue to live in God-honoring ways, despite the turmoil and sorrow around them.
What impact does the response from the wider Church have on those suffering persecution?
When Christians facing persecution hear their brothers and sisters around the world are praying for them or supporting them in any way, they are often overwhelmed with gratitude for the Body of Christ.
The sense of unity they can feel them not feel alone. Especially in settings where Christianity is met with violent opposition, knowing someone is standing in solidarity with them helps them to persevere.
Lady H*, a North Korean woman who fell victim to human trafficking, told us, “I am writing to you whose name and face I don’t know, because I really want to say ‘THANK YOU’. I will always remember you and your loving support. I wish that one day, I can meet you face to face.”
With the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, how do we pray for those undergoing persecution?
Believers around the world are facing a variety of challenges and trials. The Open Doors World Watch List is a great place to start: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/
It highlights the top 50 most difficult places to be a Christian. The believers living in these countries face the worst persecution so they are in desperate need of prayer! From this list, you can click through to each country to see specific prayer updates, stories and other resources.
One thing we try to remember is that we are not commanded in Scripture to pray for persecution to end. Instead, we ask God to use trials to grow His church and produce richer faith and joy in those facing them. We pray He will use their witness to bring many more into the faith.
We cannot wait for you to join us for the International Day of Prayer, on November 5th. Thank you for choosing to pray with our persecuted brothers and sisters!
Find the rest of this series below: