‘When I Think About the Persecuted Church’
Allison Lewis Photography By David Platt, author of Radical Imagine living in a place where it’s illegal to proclaim the gospel, or study the Bible for that matter. A place where being a follower of Christ could literally cost you your life. For millions of followers of Christ, this is an everyday reality. For many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, the cost of discipleship is more than most of us can fathom. This is life for the persecuted church. Two pictures, in particular, come to my mind when I think about the persecuted church. One involves the first opportunity I ever had to be with an underground house church in Asia. It was not part of our initial plans on this particular trip, but, by the grace of God, a door opened for me to do biblical training with the leaders of an underground house church network. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into an undisclosed location at 2:00 in the afternoon and sat down with these brothers and sisters. But by 10:00 that night, we were still going strong in the Word. They looked at me at the end of that first day and said, “Will you teach us all the books of the Bible?” That was a request that I was not about to turn down! Over the next two weeks, we walked from cover to cover through Scripture for 8 to 12 hours a day. These leaders were farmers and agricultural workers who laid down everything in their lives for a couple of weeks at great risk to know God’s Word. The second picture that comes to my mind when I think about the persecuted church is that of the believers I met years ago in war-torn Sudan. They had seen atrocities you and I can’t imagine over a 20-year period, but the joy on their faces and the passion in the hearts was contagious. We walked through God’s Word together, and they wrote down everything I taught them. Then they came to me afterward and said, “David, we know we have a responsibility to take everything you have taught us from God’s Word and translate it into our languages in order to teach it to our tribes.” The persecuted church is a secret church. It’s underground, hidden from the eyes of earthly authorities. But they are not hidden before God. They are growing-often thriving-in cultures and countries that seek to stop followers of Jesus Christ from proclaiming His gospel and His glory. These Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ, need our prayers and our support. For this reason, I have deep appreciation for Open Doors and all the ways they are coming alongside the church in some of the darkest places in the world: encouraging them, equipping them and strengthening them to stand firm in the face of persecution. And I want to thank you for doing all you can to pray for, love and serve our brothers and sisters in need.