When I first exchanged emails with Open Doors supporter, Norman Pankop, he was doing exactly what I heard he was known for: rallying his local congregation to care for the persecuted church.
On the day we spoke, he was recruiting fellow church attenders to participate in Open Doors’ effort to write underground believers in North Korea.
To ensure a strong response, Norm and his friends wrote example letters packed with subtle promises of God and invited members to sign them.
“This morning,” Norm told me, “We got 48 responses from the 115 people in attendance.”
While Norm said he rightfully considered the effort a success after more than 40% of his congregation participated, he still emphasized that he hoped to do more. “We hope to have almost all of our members participate eventually.”
I was so touched by Norm’s efforts that I asked him if he would share some of the ways he rallies his congregation to support the persecuted church. He graciously agreed.
I hope his thoughts bless you as much as they bless me.
Sarah: How did you first learn about the persecuted church and the work of Open Doors? And how old were you at the time?
Sarah: How do you encourage the congregation to get involved?
Norm: Along with our newsletter, we use our church bulletin and newsletter, announcements during services and flyers. We are heavily involved in the North Korean letter writing campaign at this time. During our first week,we received 48 responses out of 115 attending the services. We are pleased but hopeful for many more! We credit the letters we wrote ourselves with this success. We kept it simple. All people had to do was sign their first name and put the letter in our mailbox.
Our greatest success to date has come though the Open Doors Bible and Gospel Advancement program which we began in early 2016. We sent 133 Bibles to believers through the end of that year from a church with about 150 members. We have been generously supported by our Missions Board and United Methodist Women along with our small change jar in the church. We also provide refreshments periodically with all profits given to the Bible program. We emphasize small giving on a regular basis. We are focused on our mission; we don’t allow fund-raising to become a distraction to our work.
Sarah: How does serving alongside Open Doors in ministry to persecuted believers impact your own faith or grow your spiritual life?
Norm: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” and “my cup runneth over” are more than pleasant thoughts to me. Having spent much of my life helping others, I know the rewards of service. I always receive more than I give and it is impossible to ever catch up. And how do I give money yet have as much or more than I had before I gave? I believe these deep truths have to be practiced before one can believe them. Using pure logic, they don’t make sense and remain a mystery.
As I age, I have been blessed with an able assistant (Kara Rupp) who does more work than I do. She is fully capable of continuing this ministry beyond my lifetime. I could not continue this work now if it were not for the computer skills she has and the energy that I don’t have. I have learned nothing is a “do it yourself” job but I hope to continue this work until the end. It is a valuable gift from God.
Please join us in praying for Open Doors supporter, Norman Pankop, that God will increase his ministry as he serves the persecuted church from his local community. We also invite you to share your stories about how you’re supporting the persecuted church and to find a way to get involved that is a good fit for you.