As I write this, I’m busy packing for two joyful trips. One is to attend the graduation of my favorite grandson (I have only one so he is the favorite) from a very special college. The other is a trip to Europe. But before I started this day of happy preparation, I wanted to catch up with our pastor’s Sunday sermon from May 1, which I had missed.
My Family in Christ is Under Attack
My blessed and safe life, my wonderful plans were rightly jolted by his message about the persecution of my Family in Christ around the world. People I don’t know and never will in this life, but will in the next. Precious children of God – and my kinsmen – are being slaughtered and brutalized as never before in history.
(You can hear the sermons of Rev. Steve Schofield of Dahlonega United Methodist Church online, and I especially recommend the one that inspired this post, given on May 1, 2016: “Body of Christ: Injustice and Persecution.”)
Rev. Schofield gave shocking statistics of current Christian persecution. Then he gave proof from Acts that the moment there is a radical move of the Spirit (Acts 14:8-18), there is immediate persecution and, for Paul, a murderous uprising!
Acts 14:19-20 NASB
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.
Look what they did soon afterward, verses 21-22:
After they had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe) and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Antioch and Iconium! The very home of their Jewish persecutors. Unafraid and undeterred by near-death persecution, they were preaching the gospel of Jesus even in the very place where their murdering enemies lived. Such commitment and courage!
The Faith of My Family in Christ
Then Steve showed a film of a beautiful 9-year-old child, Myriam. A little Iraqi Christian, she was displaced by ISIS, but full of faith and forgiveness. I searched and found it online, along with several interviews of her.
We witness true Church happen between two little 9-year-old girls! And God’s amazing answer to their prayers for each other!
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Hebrews 13:3 AMP
To close, Rev. Schofield gave a heartfelt plea for prayer for persecuted Christians. And I answer YES to that call, asking the Holy Spirit for power and unction to pray as only He can!
Loving My Family in Christ Through Prayer
My happy world is still happy – for now – but my world has expanded and my heart is bursting. I ask the Lord to fill us powerfully with the Spirit for prayer – with Jesus’ own compassion and passion for
His children who are OUR Family in OUR FATHER in heaven!
Lord, have mercy on us, in our blessed lives, and even in our own suffering, to “devote ourselves to prayer” for Jesus’ sake.
Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life] being [both] alert and intent in your praying] with thanksgiving.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…