Praying for the Persecuted Church

I have traveled to China numerous times for business. In some of my earlier travels, I wanted to visit a local church. Here’s the problem: only state-approved churches are allowed and those are very few. The secret churches can’t exactly have signs out front or show up with an internet search. I eventually found a non-secret church and met a couple serving in that area. They gently shared with me that if I attended a secret church, I could cause them harm as I bring them unwanted attention. Though this makes sense, it was a shock as publicity is a key part of outreach for churches in America. I learned through that experience how blessed we are with our freedom to worship.

If you are like me, it is hard to relate to Christians who can’t freely meet for worship and fellowship. But 2020 can help us relate. Now, I am not saying we should equate some governments limiting church gatherings to what persecuted believers experience on a regular basis. That isn’t my point. Instead, we can relate in the simple fact that we had to actually think about attending church. For many, Sunday mornings are normally a good routine but they are just that, a routine. This year we were forced to think about child care, weigh the risk of attending vs staying home, and “considering others more significant than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3) by practicing COVID mitigation behavior. Yet many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe face much greater risk and difficulty. 

So let’s take a moment to pray for the persecuted church across the world. They can relate to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

Here is how we can pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters:

  1. Pray for God to give them strength to not be crushed by whatever affliction they face. 
  2. Ask God to encourage their hearts so they are not driven to despair.
  3. Petition God to grant them wisdom as they seek to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16) in navigating a hostile world.
  4. Pray that in whatever circumstances they face, they will manifest the life of Jesus in their lives so that even their enemies “see their good works and give glory to their Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

By Philip Jones

Philip and his wife, Stacy, have been attending Immanuel since 2015. They are blessed to be raising four kids. His passion in ministry is to help others follow Jesus through teaching, preaching, and personal discipleship.

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