Message from a Supporter: Be Intentional to Remember the Persecuted
It just so happens to be the month of Thanksgiving. But even if it wasn’t, I would still want to start this post with a giant thank you. The Open Doors staff has been blown away by how Scott Payne, mentioned below, and many others participated in the International Day of Prayer.
So thank you, friends. We’re incredibly grateful for each of you.
And as you support us in efforts like this, we hope you know: At Open Doors, we are NOT just inviting you to send off a check in the mail to support the work of our staff.
Rather, we’re inviting you to JOIN US in the work in whatever ways you can. We hope you will be participate alongside us in a variety of ways, by doing things like…
- hosting an event for an effort like the the International Day of Prayer (like Scott below),
- signing a petition,
- writing a letter to a persecuted believer,
- donating money to rebuild ISIS-ravaged communities,
- or even donating your birthday (like this 8 year old).
We hope you see the fight against religious persecution as a fight that you share. And that the work of Open Doors belongs to all of us together.
And that’s why we love to hear how supporters like Scott Payne are starting small in their own communities to support persecuted Christians. Below, you can read about what God is teaching him in the process.
Thank you, Scott. And thank you to the 11 who gathered with Scott for this small beginning. We pray God builds on your faithfulness.
Simply Remember And Be One With Them
Guest Post from Scott J. Payne, Connector: Open Doors USA
A few months ago, when the Lord led me to become a volunteer Connector to help my community support the persecuted church, I knew this wasn’t one of the most upbeat Biblical topics that would pack people in like topics such as prophecy or money management. Unfortunately, in the American church, some are more focused on “packing” the room on Sunday, but have a harder time rallying people around prayer…or the needs of people across the ocean.
Now before you start thinking, “Wow, this guy is really cynical about Christianity in America,” let me come clean. You are correct. It breaks my heart to see all of the wealth that we American Christians have and then see how little of it goes to help our precious persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
In fact, I have noticed that it isn’t just the strain on our pocketbooks that turns our hearts away from our brothers and sisters, it is also the pang of knowing that we have more freedom than 75% of the world. It’s difficult to hold the hardship persecuted believers face in comparison. To know Christians in North Korea may have to search for and eat grass just to survive. To grasp that, in Uzbekistan, battering of women, sexual abuse and kidnapping of young girls (for marriage purposes) are culturally acceptable.
I recently heard a pastor preach a message about sacrifice and one of his main examples of a way to sacrifice was to stop eating out 3 times a week. Say what? Good grief, I thought. Tell that to the thousands of Christians in prisons and labor camps around the world who are sacrificing their freedom, their comforts and in many instances their very lives. The challenges persecuted believers face often put some of ours into perspective.
I learned more about how difficult it is for people to connect with the persecuted church when I recently hosted my first International Day of Prayer at our local State Theater. It was well advertised throughout the community for at least 3 weeks before the event. The churches in town were all invited and given flyers to distribute in their bulletins. An article was placed in the local newspaper a week before Sunday. I even attended a Council of Churches meeting a couple of months ago to invite the local churches to attend. It seemed that many were interested in attending and said they would spread the word about the event.
But when the day came, only about 12 people attended.
Now I could say I was discouraged and disheartened and that would be true. Not because of the lack of believers attending and praying at this event, but for the half-hearted attitude I sometimes see in the western church as a whole.
But the Lord reminded me that we can start in small ways–even with just 12 people–by remembering our precious brother and sisters around the world who are suffering for their faith in Christ. As the writer of Hebrews tells us,”Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3, ESV). The writer is not asking us if we have time, nor is he requesting for us to consider them when it is convenient. This verse starts with the simple one word command, “Remember.”
Remember. A word that most of us probably use on a daily basis. One meaning of this simple three syllable word is “to retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of.” In my experience, human beings CAN remember what we want to. We can can rattle off things that are important to us in no time flat. Don’t believe me? Ask most men on a Monday morning which football teams won over the weekend and they will not only tell you who won, but also the score, how many turnovers there were, how many penalties were handed out and what each quarterback ate for breakfast the morning of the game.
Sometimes the first and most valid step is to plug into God–our power source–and choose to remember the things he has emphasized are important. In doing this, we act as a conduit to invite others to care and to pray with us. And we are obedient to the Biblical command to remember those who are mistreated. By gathering for this reason, we send an important message to others and ourselves: that we are committed to learning how to live as one with the persecuted church…even if our beginnings are small.
Please join with us in praying that God will continue the good work Scott and the 11 people who joined him have begun in their community.