In the news these days, it is almost weekly that I read a horrible story of Christians being killed by beheading, mass execution, crucifixion and other disturbing forms of torture. It is hard to read about and shocking that it is happening today in the 20th century. It is hard even more knowing that I was born in the United States, gave my life to Christ as a teenager, and have served the Lord joyfully, but with little hardship compared to reading those stories. The truth is that from the beginning of the church, followers of Jesus have been hunted down, put on trial, and killed for their faith. Persecution is nothing new in history. Though my life has not personally been touched by it, it is a burden on my heart.
“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. he had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to the be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod Intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” Acts 12:1-5
I wonder what do I do? How can I help? Do I write to congress and ask them to help Pastor Saeed, the American born Iranian pastor who is being held in prison in Iran? Do I charge off and defend the Christians around the world…especially those who give their lives to Christ after being raised Muslim, knowingly putting themselves at great risk of persecution and knowing there won’t be any government there to help them? What about Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and Mariam Yehya Ibrahim?
What do I do, as an American Christian what do I do?
I loved reading the above portion of the Book of Acts this morning. I was so encouraged when I got to the end of it. The church saw James killed by Herod, they surely had heard of the public stoning of Stephen. Now Peter was arrested and set for a public trial that was nearly certainly going to lead to his death for believing in Jesus. They earnestly prayed.
We need to earnestly pray.
If you have time this morning, read the rest of Acts chapter 12 . The story of what God did for Peter to set him free is an absolutely amazing story! We have prayed with our children for Saeed, Yousef and Mariam. Yousef and Mariam were set free in pretty miraculous ways as well, considering the circumstances. There are many more stories.
Whenever we read of one of the stories, We need to earnestly pray.
Lord, the world we live in is full of beautiful things and we thank you for all of them and all of our rich blessings. But there is evil here and we know that you know that. I don’t understand why some die and some live, but in your Word I read the testimony of it happening since the beginning of the church. So this mourning instead of letting my mind wander in thought, I earnestly pray once again for Pastor Saeed. I pray you set him free in such an amazing way that the people around him will see the Love of God. Be them Iranian gaurds, Sheiks that have visited him, family members who don’t believe, even the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran…I pray you will use this testimony to bring Salvation! And Lord for all those around the world being persecuted and suffering, I ask that you will comfort them with your presence this morning. Give them a sweet communion with You this morning. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
If you have not read any of the stories of persecution in the news, this facebook page called 8thirty8 is a great place to go. I set my phones alarm for 8:38pm every day and go to this page to read and pray for whichever story they post. A new story is posted everyday.
We should earnestly pray.