For this devotional, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free (With the Suffering Church), compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Horacio Herrera (from Cuba, a leader in the Cuban Church, he writes using a pseudonym), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
The church felt that Peter was an integral part of them and thus they felt prisoners with him.
We are a universal Body of Christ. We feel joy or affliction, happiness or sadness, freedom or persecution with all the members of that Body, wherever that part of the Body may be. The affliction of our brothers in Eastern Europe are ours, the struggles of the Christians in Muslim countries are our struggles also. The victories of the Christians in any part of the world, are also our victories.
'Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.'
Another translation says: 'Since you are also in the Body.' Let us remember them today in our prayers--stretching out our hands of fellowship to them. In doing so, we can bless those who are still in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ. While praying, we feel their burdens, their hardships and their pain.
A moment of introspection: In Romans 15:30, the Apostle Paul says: "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me." In his travel to Jerusalem, a foreboding hung over the otherwise undaunted, unflagging apostle--he foresaw being accosted by Jewish unbelievers; apprehended by Jewish authorities; and potentially imprisoned for his testimony of Christ's redeeming love. He asked that we join him in his struggle through prayer. Is prayer a form of struggle for us, in interceding for others? How would we pray for Paul--if we were members of the congregation in Rome? Our persecuted brothers and sisters echo Paul's heartfelt plea: pray for us. Since you are also in the Body, prayerfully help us stand up to the civil authorities; help us to stand up against the evil one and his earthly henchmen. (Ephesians 6:13 says: "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Can we, through prayer, help them stand? Can we indeed help carry the burdens of our persecuted Christian family? How can we remember the persecuted church if we do not know of them? Get informed. Intercede. Uphold through prayer. Celebrate their victories; learn of their struggles. BE part of the Body.
The persecuted church thanks you, for we too are part of the Body. We count on your prayers, we beg you to pray; we are praying for you, too.