- ahead of International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church (Sunday 3 Nov 2013)
By Elizabeth Kendal
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- In an effort to recruit more pastors and small group leaders to the great cause of supporting the persecuted church through advocacy, aid and intercessory prayer, 'Christian Faith and Freedom' (Canberra, Australia) provided their supporters with an open letter.
The letter, on CFF letterhead, was included in CFF's most recent newsletter with the request that subscribers do the following:
. take the letter in your hands and pray over it,
. then copy it and distribute the copies as God leads you.
. Finally, pray for the Spirit of God to do his work in the heart of every person who reads the letter - praying specifically, by name, for those to whom you gave the letter.
FOR "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1a ESV); AND though we plant and water, only God gives growth (1 Corinthians 3:7).
Christian Faith and Freedom is pleased to share an internationalized version of that letter in the hope that many more believers might use it to raise awareness of and engagement with the persecuted church, especially amongst those who shepherd God's flock.
Director of Advocacy, Christian Faith and Freedom (Canberra Australia).
CFF National Director
Dear Christian leader,
The second half of the 20th Century was an era of amazing progress in Christian mission and Church growth. In 1960, around 80 percent of the Church was white, Western and middle class. By 2000, around 80 percent of the Church was coloured, non-Western and poor. This has not been due a decline in the West, where the percentage of Christians has remained fairly constant. Rather, it has been due to phenomenal church growth in the non-West where Christian radio, the Jesus film and an explosion of indigenous ministries have seen multitudes turn to Jesus Christ.
Stories of triumphant missions and great humanitarian feats stir the soul and excite the mind; they sell many a book and magazine, and may be used to encourage believers, recruit workers and extract dollars. But in truth, this sweet story has a bitter side (Rev 10). For church growth will always trigger a backlash - a spiritual counter offensive.
In November 1998, in an effort to address the problem of escalating religious persecution -- particularly the escalating persecution of religious minorities outside the West -- the US enacted its International Religious Freedom Act which tied US foreign policy to international religious freedom by mandating that severe violators be sanctioned. In response to this Act, dictators around the world reigned in hostile elements and tinkered with reform for the sake of US aid and trade. But when the US housing bubble burst in Aug-Sept 2008 and the US lost its economic leverage, the Act lost its teeth and persecution immediately escalated. Today, Christians around the world are facing not just hostility, but displacements and massacres on a scale not seen in a century. We have entered an era of great persecution the likes of which has not been seen in our lifetime; an era where persecution with impunity is becoming the order of the day.
With millions of Christian families facing suffering that is truly "vast as the sea" (Lam 2:13); as they cry "rivers of tears" (Lam 3:48), how will we respond? How would God want us to respond?
In Galatians 6:2 the Apostle Paul exhorts us to "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" [i.e. the law of love]. The Church will endure by standing united, firm in faith, and by caring for one another -- speaking out and extending aid. Above all we must get serious about the serious business of intercessory prayer, which is advocacy in the courts of heaven, to the highest authority in the universe.
International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the persecuted church will be observed this year on 3 November 2013. On that day, Christians / churches around the world will pray in solidarity for the persecuted Church. Along with the thrill of participating in a global prayer event, IDOP provides Christian leaders with a wonderful opportunity to introduce a new element into their mi nistry and lead believers into an awareness of and enduring engagement with the persecuted church.
For a global overview, see: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR) at CriticalPrayerRequests.blogspot.com
For on-going participation in advocacy, aid and intercessory prayer, visit the news and advocacy organizations at TurnBackTheBattle.com Blogs and Links; sign up for a weekly Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) at the RLPB blog http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com.
I can assure you: when we bear the burdens of the persecuted, we do not compound our own burdens, we displace them. It is a humbling, inspiring and surprisingly liberating experience.
May God bless you as you serve him.
International Religious Liberty Analyst and Advocate (Religious Liberty Monitor ing)
Director of Advocacy, Christian Faith and Freedom (Canberra, Australia)
Author: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Dec 2012)