The polarization of politics and culture have widened the breach between those of faith and those who don’t or haven’t yet believed in Jesus. To be sure, there is some level of hostility against Christians in some part of American culture—but what have we done in response to this hostility? Has this caused further offense in our hearts, making us dig in our heels even more and resist any call to love our enemies? After all, we can openly worship Jesus without fear of imprisonment, abuse or torture unlike many of our friends in countries like North Korea, Afghanistan and India. So why do we have such a hard time with forgiving people who don’t like us … while the persecuted church seems to be thriving in this area?
As I read over the requests on the Open Doors prayer app, I can’t help but be overcome by the love the persecuted church has for those afflicting them. Over and over, the prayer requests of the church remain steadfast pleas for the blessing of their enemies. Even more than calls for justice, persecuted Christians ask that we pray for the salvation of their enemies, that they would experience the love of God, and that they, themselves would quickly forgive their tormentors.
In an area of Cameroon, red listed and specifically targeted by Boko Haram, Christians leave their homes behind to live in the wilderness, amongst mud and mosquitos, for fear of abduction, torture and death at the hands of the radical Islamic group. Yet still, one of believers’ primary requests is that we pray for their enemies. One Christian asks: “Pray the Lord will change the hearts of our persecutors so they may know Him as their only Savior.”