Although many people, including myself, live in a society where we have the freedom to openly practice our faith in Christ and tell others the gospel, many Christians around the world do not have this privilege.
Persecution is an everyday reality for believers in other countries where it is illegal and dangerous to bear the name of Jesus.
Reading about instances of persecution in the news or in books might cause many of us to wonder: what can I do to help these fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? In this article, I will discuss a few things we can do to help support persecuted believers around the world.
By engaging in these activities, we will increasingly find that our worldwide family in Christ has a lot to teach us about faith and perseverance.
Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life. However, many people often overlook intercession.
We are more likely to follow the popular phrase, “when all else fails, pray” than the biblical admonition to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV). When we encounter suffering and problems in the world, our first reaction should be to pray.
The author of Hebrews instructed believers to pray for their fellow Christians who were being mistreated because of their faith.
We are wise to follow this instruction as well, to “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).
Since all believers are part of the universal church as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), we should remember to regularly pray for those who are experiencing persecution.
To help integrate intercession for suffering Christians in other parts of the world, prayer guides are available that focus on a specific area each day, such as North Korea or Afghanistan.
By following these prayer prompts, we can make our prayers more specific. Also, we can consistently intercede for our worldwide church family, instead of just praying sporadically.
When we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, we can pray that they would stand firm in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1); show love for their enemies (Matthew 5:44); and remember the truth of Jesus’ words that they are blessed to suffer for His name (Matthew 5:10-12; Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 4:16).
In addition to prayer, we can also help persecuted Christians by giving them our resources, time, or talents to help them. First, God has provided each of us with resources to help others.
One of the ways we can use our financial resources is to assist those who are experiencing ill-treatment from others because of the gospel. Multiple organizations exist that provide relief to believers around the world who are facing harassment.
Oftentimes, these organizations also give Bibles to Christians since many followers of Jesus in the world do not have access to God’s Word. Reading Scripture is vital for spiritual growth, which makes these gifts even more valuable (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Other times, the Holy Spirit might move us to give by using our time and talents to serve suffering Christians. Just as specific ministry organizations offer ways to give financially, they also offer volunteer options for those who feel moved to act.
Letter writing, volunteering time and energy at office locations, and packing supplies are all areas where you can serve persecuted Christians in a practical way.
Some examples of ministries that exist to minister to the needs of believers around the world who are mistreated for their faith include The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. Other ministries, like Samaritan’s Purse, also help persecuted Christians as part of their service.
3. Increase Awareness
Another way to assist believers who are facing harassment because of their faith is to increase awareness in our churches.
While most people logically know that Christians in other countries live in constant threat of persecution, many of us have not thoughtfully considered what these Christians face daily.
In American churches, we are surrounded by comfort. We do not have to fear ramifications for practicing our faith or going to church.
By talking to others in our churches and Bible studies about the reality of persecution, we can encourage others to pray and give.
Leaders in the church, such as pastors and teachers, are supposed to equip others to serve (Ephesians 4:11-13), which includes interceding for believers who are suffering from mistreatment.
Pastors, specifically, are in a unique position to inform congregations about the harsh realities of everyday life for believers in other countries where being a Christian is illegal or dangerous.
Other believers in the church can also raise awareness by holding prayer meetings or leading a Bible study about being persecuted for the faith. The early church faced severe persecution, but the church grew despite the opposition (Acts 8:1-4; 11:19-21).
Our church family across the world is facing similar instances of persecution, which is why we need to inform others about their suffering and learn from their examples of faith.
4. Learn from Their Strong Faith
A final way we can help persecuted Christians is to learn from them. We help them by honoring their suffering and sacrifice. Also, they help us by challenging us to a deeper level of faith.
In many ways, what they teach us through their example might be greater than the ways we can help them.
As I stated earlier, Christians in America have the privilege of being free. We can worship freely, evangelize without the threat of death, and legally meet in buildings together as a church. Also, the Bible is easily accessible, often at low costs.
However, persecuted believers in other countries are willing to give up their lives for the sake of Jesus. Many of them do not own a Bible but have an unquenchable thirst for God’s Word. They boldly share the gospel and meet for worship at great risks to their personal safety.
These Christians’ strong faith in Jesus and love for His Word should challenge us. What if we started living boldly for Christ? How would our lives look differently if we realized that owning a Bible is a privilege instead of taking it for granted?
What if we sought to build the Body of Believers by making disciples instead of building programs and larger churches? How many people could we impact for Christ if we stopped living for comfort and instead seek to glorify God with our lives?
We might think persecuted Christians have a “radical” or “exceptional” faith, but they are just living out what Jesus taught.
As David Platt says in his book, Radical, “Not even dying a martyr’s death is classified as extraordinary obedience when you are following a Savior who died on a cross. Suddenly a martyr’s death seems like normal obedience” (Multnomah, 2010, p. 216).
In American churches and other Western cultures, we need more followers of Christ who are passionate about living for Jesus. The stories of persecuted believers motivate us to consider how seriously we take our relationship with Christ.
Why Does This Matter?
Many Christians live with the threat of persecution. When we hear stories of believers in other places suffering because of their testimony in Christ, we want to do something to help our worldwide church family.
To support persecuted Christians, we can pray for them, give to ministries that assist them, and increase awareness in our churches.
As we pray and offer practical assistance to believers experiencing mistreatment, we will find ourselves learning from their examples of faith. Their stories can challenge us to a stronger faith and closer walk with the Lord.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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