What I Have Learned from the Persecuted Church
This month marks 13 years that I have worked with the ministry of Open Doors. In that time my faith has been greatly impacted by our brothers and sisters living under persecution. Each time I am asked to share about our ministry and the persecuted Christians we serve, there are three points I share without fail.
Count the Cost. For our brothers and sisters living in countries where conversion can cost you your life, persecuted Christians have counted the cost to follow Jesus. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Mark 9:23) These instructions are for all believers, both those living in persecution and those living with freedom of religion. The question, “Is Jesus worth it?” is responded to with an unyielding “Yes,” by those who have counted the cost and they challenge me to be able to say the same.
Depend on the Lord. I will never forget when a colleague shared with us about the difference between Christians in America and those in Egypt. He said, “You all have plans A through Z, but we have only one plan and that is for God to show up. If He doesn’t, then we are out of luck.” Many times I have been challenged to put my trust in the Lord and depend on Him and not come up with my own backup plan. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes…” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Treasure God’s Word. The value persecuted Christians place on God’s Word has left a huge impression on me. Not only do I view my own personal Bibles (yes, I have more than one) with greater appreciation, but I have been challenged to place more and more of God’s Word in my heart. There are those who cannot have a Bible in their possession and so their Bible is the portions they have memorized. For me, who has easy access, I had not committed Scripture to memory but have been moved to do so, including Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin again you.”
When I think about sharing the message of the persecuted Church with the next generation, these are the messages I hope they hear.