Stuck at home? Worship with God’s people in these 5 songs

March 25, 2020 by Christopher Summers in Stories of Persecution

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

—St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians

 

One of the ways the people of God have always worshiped Him is through song. David played his harp in Saul’s court, singing songs of praise. Mary’s song of worship when she finds out that she is pregnant with Jesus is one of the most sung prayers of all time. And Psalms is an entire book of songs! The people of God love to sing His praises.

This is true of our sisters and brothers who live in places where following Jesus is difficult. Being an American in a church among persecuted Christians and hearing familiar songs in an unfamiliar language is a foretaste of heaven—believers who may not share a language, sharing in the worship of one God.

Right now, many of us are stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our churches are closed to large gatherings to protect the most vulnerable among us. We can’t gather with our small groups, or with our friends from church.

But the example of persecuted Christians shows us that we can still worship with God—and with one another—even in the midst of isolation and uncertainty. We have the freedom to praise God with one another, and through technology, even with our family of persecuted believers around the world.

Here are five songs sung by persecuted believers. As you’re likely at home right now, away from people, join your voice to theirs—even if it feels a bit silly, belt out these songs! You’ll be joining your brothers and sisters in worshiping God as Christians have always done. God will lift your spirits and you’ll be a living reminder that the Church is bigger than any pandemic, bigger than any persecution.

Join Hee Jin* (North Korea) in singing ‘Father, I stretch my hands to Thee’

In this moving video, Hee Jin, who escaped North Korea, sings a favorite hymn of her grandmother’s. Her grandmother was the one who shared the gospel with Hee Jin when Hee Jin was a girl, despite the risk of being a Christian in North Korea. You can hear the tears in Hee Jin’s voice as she sings.

The tune is familiar to American ears as the classic New Year’s song “Auld Lang Syne,” but the lyrics fit the tune in English as well. Sing with Hee Jin:

“Father, I stretch my hands to Thee, No other help I know.
If Thou withdraw Thyself from me, Ah! Wither shall I go?
He shed His precious blood from sin to set me free.
With my heart repenting I come before Thee.”

Hee Jin: Finding Faith in North Korea from Open Doors USA on Vimeo.

Help persecuted Christians in the coronavirus crisis!

For many Christians already persecuted for their faith, the global pandemic is making live even more difficult. They have less access to healthcare, medicines and community services. Open Doors is committed to standing with the least of these—to ensure that the vulnerable have what they need too. God’s people need our help urgently—will you give today?

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Seek after God with Poh*

Poh is a Hmong believer in northern Vietnam who grew up worshiping demons. His father threatened to kill him when he came to faith in Christ. In Hmong culture, to become a Christian can mean risking everything—family, status, community and even life. Poh has greatly suffered for following Jesus, and yet he longs to follow Christ even more closely.

Recently, he powerfully shared his heart and voice. Sing along with him and let his praise bring you strength today.

“As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

“You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

“You’re my friend
And You are my brother
Even though You are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything

“I want You more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye”

Seek after God with Poh from Open Doors USA on Vimeo.

Sing Easter praises with Syrian youth

These young believers in Syria are from Aleppo, a city that experienced so much destruction and tragedy during the Syrian civil war. Even as they sing, you can see the backdrop of a bombed-out neighborhood in the background.

But they are there. And they are singing about the joy of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. What was dead has been raised again. What better place to celebrate that reality than Aleppo?

Join these believers:

“Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

“Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the victory won, Alleluia!
Jesus’ agony is over, Alleluia!
Darkness veils the earth no more, Alleluia!

“Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!”

Sing with Seojun* of God’s promises

Seojun is a pastor originally from North Korea. When he was younger, he was forced to flee from his home country to China because of the brutal famine that took place there. When he arrived in China, he spent much of his time and energy trying to make ends meet and avoid capture from Chinese police, who would send him back to North Korea.

Eventually, he found a safe house partnered with Open Doors. While there, he heard about Jesus for the first time. He began to read the Bible and pray, and eventually God got ahold of his heart. Eventually, he made his way to South Korea, where he became a pastor and now serves God.

He shares this song from his heart, the heart of a pastor who longs for the people of his home nation to find freedom in Christ. Sing with him:

“I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses

“And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.”

Seojun sings ‘I Come to the Garden’ from Open Doors USA on Vimeo.

Praise God’s ‘amazing grace’ with Hea Woo*

Hea Woo is a North Korean Christian who now lives in South Korea. When she lived in North Korea, her husband was captured and sent to a labor camp. While he was in the camp, he wanted to tell her and his kids about his faith—so he wrote “believe in Jesus” on his hand to show his family without alerting the guards.

He was later killed because he refused to deny Christ.

Later, Hea Woo herself was in a prison camp. “Physical labor was hard but something harder was that we did not have freedom of faith,” she says. “We could not pray freely but I still prayed in [my] heart. When people were asleep, I woke up to pray. It was so pitiful that we did not have freedom of faith; I really yearned for freedom.”

Her prayers kept her faith alive—and eventually she was able to flee.

When she was with some Open Doors team members, she began to sing. Worship along with her:

“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

“T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.”

North Korean Refugee Hea Woo Sings Amazing Grace from Open Doors USA on Vimeo.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

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