I was reminded that today we are called to set aside time to pray, as it is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church around the world. It’s so hard for me to imagine the magnitude of the suffering that many fellow believers live under every day as a result of their faith in Jesus as Saviour. Here in North America it is so easy to become complacent – both about praying for the persecuted church, but also (maybe even more importantly) it is easy to become complacent about our own Christianity and the call of God on our lives. I know I am so often guilty of that.
I recently read the book “Safely Home” by Randy Alcorn which really impacted me and brings much light to the situation of believers around much of the world. This is a novel about the persecuted church in China. In particular, it focusses on an American man who travels to China to stay with his old college roommate. The authour details many of the challenges for each culture in following God. Although, in North America, we would presume that because we are not persecuted in the way that this man was in China we are more free to follow God’s call on our lives, the novel brought me a clearer picture of just how this freedom has allowed us to become lukewarm and complacent, seeking our own comfort rather than needing to depend fully on God.
While my brief synopsis cannot do justice to this great work, the most memorable moment for me was when these two main characters are discussing how they would go on and pray for each other. The persecuted Chinese man reports to his American friend that he will pray that the American would experience persecution! While on one hand this seems like the greatest cruelty to wish on another, never mind to pray for a friend, the Chinese man (and the Chinese church) truly recognize that it has been through the persecution they have experienced that they have drawn near to God and been able to more fully depend on Him. What an awe-inspiring hunger that has amounted out of the worst kind of hardship! What a calling on my own heart to choose to draw nearer to God because of the freedom that I do have!
I encourage you all to read through the book and to take some time today to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution, and maybe even to pray for ourselves who need to be shaken out of our complacency and get ourselves plugged in more fully to God and to what He is doing around the world for His glory.
In Him, Carrie