The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most beautiful, life-giving message in the world. Through the suffering and resurrection of Christ 2000 years ago, eternal life is now available to everyone who calls on his name.
But in spite of this beauty and love and glory found in Christ, that same message provokes hatred and animosity. And since the Apostles, believers throughout history have been willing to proclaim Jesus and suffer for it. And they have suffered.
Hebrews 13:3 ESV “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
Christians all over the world even today are suffering for the name of Christ. This is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The foundation of this Day of Prayer is this very verse.
So normally we have a sermon during this time. But today we’ll do something unusual for us. We will spend a portion of this time in prayer together. Calling out to God, praying for help for those who are suffering for his name.
Here is an overview of morning.
Watch a video.
Guang and I will share some things to lead us into prayer.
We will ask you to get in groups of 5 to 7 and pray.
We will have some things on the screen that you can pray for.
Note: If you are new to Stonebrook or you have never prayed out loud before with other people, please don’t worry about it. Participate to the level you are comfortable with. Really.
Let’s pray. Lord, stories we read in the news seem so distant. Yet we know they are real. Grant us this morning through the power and mercy of your Holy Spirit a heart of compassion for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for the name of Jesus. Help us not remain unmoved. Inspire us from their lives of faith and love.
Watch this 5 minute video now.
This is based on a true story of a woman from Syria. Liena and her husband turned down offers of asylum in other countries after civil war broke out in Syria. They knew the cost that might be required, but they chose to remain as witnesses to their Muslim neighbors and as an encouragement to other Christians. This is about her prayer to God and some difficult choices she had to make for the sake of Jesus Christ.
What is it about the good news of Jesus that people would be willing to die? Lots of people die for causes, e.g., suicide bombers. But their cause is destruction and death. It’s completely perverse and wicked. But the cause of Jesus’ followers is to bring hope and life and peace with God.
What is it about Jesus and the gospel message that compels such love and selflessness?
Thursday I listened to an Interview with two young Iranian women. (Voice of the Martyrs) They distributed 20,000 Bibles in 3 years in Teheran. Arrested and Imprisoned in 2008 or 2009. Afraid. Yet they had great love towards their persecutors. One other woman in prison believed as she heard these two singing to God and praying.
If you are interested in their book, it is called “Captive in Iran.” The authors are Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh. They are utterly convinced that the Gospel message is True. That eternal salvation for anyone who believes is at stake.
Pray that they will rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41).
Pray that they will be refreshed through God’s Word and grow in their faith (Eph. 6:17).
Pray that they will be strengthened through the prayers of fellow believers (2 Cor. 1:8-11).
Here are some action steps we can take.
Pray for compassion.
Sign up for occasional news updates.
Read some stories.
Buy a good book. (I recommend “Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs.”)
Give financially to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are our family.
Pray for them. Pray individually. Pray with your family or roommates.
Pray that you, too, would love Christ and other people so much that you would be willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake.