– 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.