“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10) Have you ever experienced such a blessing? The presence of terrorism worldwide is giving us the precious opportunity to serve Jesus, spread His name, and connect parts of His body – exactly what serving persecuted Christians is.
1. Serve Jesus directly
Jesus called the disciples to look after the poor, the sick, and those in prison. Just like how He wanted the disciples to stay with Him in the Gethsemane, Jesus will also treasure every visit we make, and see it as it being done for Him. How wonderful is this! Do you have time to visit Jesus in prison? Are you willing to send Jesus a coat? Would you fast in order to fill Jesus’ stomach?
2. Connecting Jesus
There are more than 200 million of us, how then do we live as one Body? Paul says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” Every year’s Ramadan – Pray for 30 Days and International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for Persecuted Christians events are wonderful occasions to connect with the Lord, and also with the wider church. Only by suffering together and rejoicing together can the world see that we are disciples of Christ. Connecting strengthens the faith of the persecuted and also deepens the world’s understanding of Christ.
3. Spread the name of Jesus
Although Jesus’ great work of redemption was completed more than 2000 years ago, three-quarters of the world has yet to be saved. Some are even against the gospel. How do we turn these hard soil into good soil? An expert on persecution, Paul said in Galatians 1:24 that God has put suffering on believers to fill up what is still lacking in Christ’s affliction, so that more of the hard soil can be saved. We are seeing God use the testimonies of martyrs to bring many persecutors back to Him; just as how Stephen’s faithfulness to the point of death ultimately caused the gospel to be widely spread. Thank God for martyrs! They are followers of Christ, and soldiers of the gospel. Serving the persecuted allows us to be directly involved in evangelism.
A church leader, who was imprisoned for more than twenty years, met some visitors who had been praying for him and prayed these three blessings for them:
(1) That they will experience great personal blessings from praying as they know God’s presence with them.
(2) That when they pray, their burden for the persecuted will increase, for prayer connects different parts of Christ’s body.
(3) That through praying for others, they will see God’s might, for God wants us to be part of His wonderful works.