How My Life Was Changed by the Persecuted Church
As Director of Open Doors Fortify, I have the privilege of traveling the country and talking to students about the persecuted church. From time to time, I am blessed to meet students who have been so captured by the cry of our brothers and sisters that they are moved to action. One of those students was Beth. Instead of telling you her story, I have asked her to share it with you:
I always had a heart for the nations, but I didn’t know that people who share my faith in Christ are persecuted in over 60 countries.
Here is how my life was changed by the persecuted church. Oh, how I am praying yours is, too!
I was a senior and a Resident Assistant at Liberty University. Global Focus Week was approaching, and I wanted to go deeper in learning about the persecuted church. That summer, I read Nik Ripken’s Insanity of God, and it changed my life. It brought me to my knees, crying out to God and asking for a greater understanding of persecution and a burden to pray on behalf of the persecuted. I began Googling and reading everything I could about the persecuted church. I quickly found Open Doors, and wept as I read through the World Watch List.
The Lord began speaking to me of how He would use my position of leadership to spread awareness for the persecuted church. I was humbled He would use me and also scared I would fail. I was afraid my peers would think I was crazy and not agree to partner with me. But the Lord gave me a vision for a night focused on the persecuted church.
In the days following, I shared my burden with a few girls who were in the same leadership position and received affirmation that this was supposed to happen.
I will never forget the night we gathered with around a hundred girls from our dorm in the campus prayer chapel. The girls were asked to come dressed in black, bring their Bibles and walk to the chapel in silence. Once they arrived, I told the girls the purpose of our meeting, sharing statistics and how it is our responsibility to pray for the Body of Christ.
I explained that believers in other countries do not have the privilege to own a copy of God’s Word, and if they do, it is often only a few pages or one book of the 66. I told them that despite limited access, the pieces of Scripture persecuted believers know are deeply written upon their hearts. There are many privileges we too often take for granted, so I asked them if they thought that Jesus would be worth experiencing persecution themselves.
I was shaking, not knowing how these girls would respond, but trusting that I was called to issue a challenge. I challenged them to give me their Bibles – to put themselves in the position of persecuted believers, to spend the next three days relying upon what they had hidden in their own hearts and to intercede for those who are daily in this position.
I will never forget the image of students walking to the altar and leaving their Bibles. I still see girls kneeling and praying; I still hear voices asking for strength for those who are being persecuted and for salvation for the persecutors; I still see tears on their faces, crying out to God, asking forgiveness for not valuing His Word more and asking for a renewed passion to know it deeper than before.
In the days after, I saw girls come to know the Lord for the first time. Others rededicated their lives to following Him and knowing His Word. I saw girls become burdened for the persecuted church the way I had. Words do not adequately capture the joy on these girls’ faces as I handed back their Bibles.
I cannot justify being silent. The persecuted church is real. It is growing, and it needs our prayer and our attention. Now that I know, I am called to action. And so are you.