Those who suffer most for the gospel are persecuted Christians. They suffer precisely because they place their hope, their treasure, their very lives in neither false gods nor empty philosophies - but in a God-man who lived the perfect life they could not and then died the death they deserved, so that he might offer to us a free gift of reconciliation to God. How might we "stay awake" and "keep watch" with those who suffer because of this message - the glorious gospel?
Jerusalem-based journalist Lela Gilbert here offers 6 suggestions (I've summarized 4 below):
1. Be as informed as possible. With the rise of ISIS and its extreme persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria, especially, there is a lot of information circulating "out there." You may have received to your Inbox or smartphone calls to pray with, albeit, sometimes contradictory information. The most up-to-date and accurate website has been put together by the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom: www.persecutionreport.org. Reports are grouped by continent. Tab it and check it out regularly .
2. Support organizations that aid persecuted Christians. Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, Christian Solidarity International are among those who do. Open Doors has an gift catalog from which you can send out various helps of your choosing (starting at $5 US). You can also write words of encouragement to those who are imprisoned because of their love for Jesus.
3. Pass the word via social media and email - perhaps start with this blog post, the above article, or suggest to your Community Group following through with #4.
4. Pray. On the same weekend as the Int'l Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, SCC will be holding a 12-hour prayer vigil to stay alert & stand watch with those who need strength to endure, boldness to witness, and final restoration from suffering.
- Saturday, November 1st. Stay awake and stand watch with us!! Sign up here for at least one hour. Share also any requests of suffering saints you know for which the church body can be praying. Jesus' words in the Garden have been deeply convicting to me: "Could you not watch with me for one hour?" (Matthew 26:40).
- Traveling to the U.S. between now and November 1st? We could use your help. I'd love to have a this pack of global church reports, commitment to pray brochures, and banner on hand to assist our intercession on November 1st. If you feel led to purchase, pick up, and bring these items back to Grand Cayman, that would be an awesome blessing!
- You can also pray individually. Voice of the Martyrs sends out an email every Friday with prayer requests, which they also regularly update. I've found this to be a regular fixture on my Fridays and have proved a great source of praise as you discover that God has used your prayer to deliver comfort, relief and restoration to a fellow saint thousands of miles away.
Let's commit to stay alert & stand watch with those who experience bad news because of they love His good news!