Last fall I set out for Liberty University’s Global Focus Week hoping to meet college students eager to learn more about persecution and the work of Open Doors.
A few weeks prior to my departure, I was asked to pray at an event the Center for Global Engagement was planning for the week. This event was a “secret church meeting.” Students were invited to silently make their way to a secluded spot at Camp Hydaway where we held a service in remembrance of the persecuted.
The service was atypical. Instead of hearing a sermon, students and staff were invited to share how God was working in our lives, Scripture or hymns that were impacting us, and so on. It was a beautiful opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by total strangers, to be the Body of Christ building each other up and to pray for the persecuted members of the Body – those believers we may never meet on this side of eternity.
Soon it was time for me to close the night in prayer.
Public speaking makes me nervous, and praying in public doubles the effect of my public speaking anxiety. In the few seconds before I opened my mouth, I simply asked that God would be honored and glorified, that these would not be my words but His.
I was shaking, my voice was cracking, but I prayed.
It was over, and we all dismissed.
Liberty recently hosted their spring Global Focus Week, only this time I was unable to attend. Luckily, Open Doors Fortify has a few Connectors on campus that were able to meet with students on my behalf. When the week was over, I received this email:
“I just spoke with a student named Sarah who mentioned you praying at Camp Hydaway last semester. She said while you were praying the Lord told her to give up drinking coffee for a year, and pray for the Persecuted Church instead. She was an avid coffee drinker and could easily drink three to four cups a day, but she felt God leading her to do this. She reported that she has not had a drop of coffee since September 8th, 2015 and plans to continue the fast until September 8th, 2016. She said I could share her story with you.”
Sarah, I hope it is okay I share your story here, too, because God asked you to empty your life of coffee, so it could be filled with loving His people. Knowing your story has encouraged me to remember the persecuted even in the little things.
Friends, Sarah’s story is a lovely Lenten reminder that loving the persecuted must begin somewhere.
So, where is God asking you to begin today?