– from Carlotta Jackson

This  happened  during  my  first  trip  to  India.  The  Indian  leader  of  our  trip  took  our   little  group  of  Americans  to  a  small  concrete  room  divided  by  two  rows  of  chairs  -­‐   one  facing  the  other.  A  light  bulb  dangled from  the  ceiling.  We  American  Christians  sat   on  one  side.  The  Indian  pastors  sat  on  the  other  side.

The  scene  took  me  back  to  an  unnerving  event  after  our  flight  to  Romania  shortly   after  the  Romanian  Revolution  and  execution  of  Nicolae  Ceaușescu,  one  of  the   cruelest  Communist  rulers  the  world  has  known.  After  deplaning,  our  large  mission   group  was  taken  to  a  warehouse  type  building  with  a  couple  of  light  bulbs  hanging precariously from  the  ceiling  where  we  stood  waiting  on  someone  to  tell  us  our  next  move.  It   actually  felt  like  a  scene  out  of  a  movie,  where  viewers  wondered  if  survivors  would   come  out.  I  mean  -­‐  that’s  where  my  imagination  went,  and  I  don’t  think  I  was  the   only  one.

Now  my  imagination  did  not  go  that  wild  while  facing  these  Indian  pastors,  but  I  did   wonder  what  was  up.  It  soon  became  apparent.  I  soon  realized  I  was  staring  at  the   persecuted  church  as  one  by  one  they  told  their  stories.  They  didn’t  tell  a  story   about  someone  not  liking  the  fact  that  they  homeschooled.  They  didn’t  tell  a  story  of   someone  questioning  how  many  children  they  had.  They  didn’t  tell  a  story  of   someone  disagreeing  with  a  political  choice.

No,  they  told  about  being  beaten,  imprisoned,  and  separated  from  their  families   because  they  love  Jesus  -­‐  more  than  anything  this  world  has  to  offer  and  more  than   their  own  lives.  One  had  himself  been  a  policeman  who  had  persecuted  Christians,   but  he  became  a  Christian  and  is  now  a  mentor  pastor  and  on  a  Christian  leadership   team  -­‐  and  on  the  other  end  of  persecution.

These  men  were  only  about  ten  pastors  out  of  around  500  attending  the  conference,   many  of  whom  had  suffered  for  the  sake  of  Christ.  The  suffering  was  obvious,  but   their  faith  was  more  than  obvious  -­‐  it  was  pungent.  In  fact,  the  aroma  of  Christ  filled   the  room.  Suddenly,  I  felt  as  if  I  didn’t  deserve  to  be  in  the  same  room  with  them.  I   didn’t  feel  like  I  should  be  breathing  the  same  air.  All  of  my  penny-­‐ante  problems   truly  seemed  small  and  insignificant.  These  men  were  poorly  dressed,  their  teeth   stained,  their  hair  greased  back,  but  none  of  this  mattered.  They  had  my  utmost   respect.

A  non-­‐profit,  interdenominational  organization  called  The  Voice  of  the  Martyrs   seeks  to  aid  the  persecuted  church  around  the  world.  Look  them  up  on  the  internet   and  consider  supporting  them  with  your  resources.  Above  all,  download  their  app   and  be  a  prayer  warrior  on  behalf  of  the  persecuted  church  per  the  daily  prayer   requests.  It’s  a  little  late  this  year,  but  ask  your  church  to  recognize  the  International   Day  of  Prayer  for  the  Persecuted  Church.  This  year  VOM  is  sponsoring  two  such   days,  November  5th  and  November  12th.

Persecution  does  exist  in  America  -­‐  at  bakeries,  at  florists,  in  the  courthouses,  in   schools,  etc.  Chinese  Christians  have  been  praying  for  our  persecution.  Say  what?

They  know  how  persecution  has  grown  the  house  churches  of  China.  After  all,  as   Tertullian,  one  of  the  second  century  church  fathers  wrote,  “The  blood  of  the   martyrs  is  the  seed  of  the  church.”  Then  James  1:2-­‐4  says,  “Consider  it  all  joy,  my   brethren,  when  you  encounter  various  trials,  knowing  that  the  testing  of  your  faith   produces  endurance.  And  let  endurance  have  its  perfect  result,  that  you  may  be   perfect  and  complete,  lacking  in  nothing.”

I  cannot  close  without  Paul’s  words  in  Philippians  3:10,  “…that  I  may  know  Him,  and   the  power  of  His  resurrection  and  the  fellowship  of  His  sufferings,  being  conformed   to  His  death…”

Let  us  pray  for  courage  for  believers  everywhere  that  we  may  “count  it  all  joy”  and   that  we  may  want  to  know  Him  to  the  point  of  experiencing  His  sufferings.