“When one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
The 20th century was the most violent century in the history of mankind, so it comes as no surprise that it was also a time of intense persecution for Christians around the world. Persecution, however, is not new. It goes back to the very beginning of the church. In fact, the Apostle Paul, who began as a religious terrorist seeking to destroy the church before becoming a believer, found himself on the other side of persecution: beaten and jailed for sharing the Gospel.
Coming from the West, it’s easy to feel disconnected and apathetic towards the plight of the global persecuted church, but the reality is that people suffer for their faith every day. Christians are beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and even killed simply for professing faith in Christ. Nik Ripken, the author of The Insanity of God, has studied the global persecuted church.
In countless interviews with believers around the world suffering for their faith, Ripken asked how Christians in the West could pray. Not once did anyone ask for prayer that God end the suffering and persecution they face. Instead, over and over these persecuted Christians asked for prayer that their witness would be strong; that they would be bold and courageous to persevere in the face of incredible suffering.
The Bible describes the Church as a body of believers. When one part suffers, the whole body suffers (my paraphrase). So how will you remember those suffering for their faith? Start today and commit to regularly pray for the persecuted church. Pray that they will be strong in their witness. Don’t let the privilege and freedom of the Western Church allow you to forget your brothers and sisters in Christ suffering around the world.