A popular military aphorism characterizes the price paid for combat service, “All gave some and some gave all.” For the Gospel, the persecuted church gives its all in the shadows of government persecution. A concerning number of nations in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia blacklist Christianity through making church services, evangelism, and Bible-reading illegal. As a young man who has lived all of his life under the pleasant shade of religious liberty, I am disheartened for those whom religious liberty is not a pleasant shade but a walk in the darkness, for they are not lavished with such a liberty.
There exists a tendency to romanticize the adversities of the persecuted church as if their sufferings were merely pieces of a screenwriter’s script. Tragically, the good guys aren’t always released from prison or spared the sword—as numerous godly widows and widowers can attest. Children lose parents, mothers and fathers lose sons and daughters, and congregations lose members and pastors. Those in the persecuted church live as enemy spies do—in the shadows, looking over their shoulders, and conducting their precarious business in complete uncertainty of when it could collapse.
Here in America, we can do something: pray, pay, and make a way. Our mourning means nothing if we do not keep our brothers and sisters in Christ covered in prayer. Also, our words mean little if our pocketbooks remain clamped. For example, The Voice of the Martyrs is a Christian organization that provides services and supplies to the persecuted Church around the world. One thing the organization does is host training workshops for widows of martyred believers. Training and supplies require funds, and who is in a better position than us in the Western church to propel these efforts? Those who “make a way” through volunteering their time in the service of the persecuted church are carrying out the Great Commission at a critical time when the persecuted church desires attention, care, and ministry.
At the minimum, let us pray. The following is a list of there focused areas of prayer that we can conduct on behalf of the persecuted church.
Pray for Divine Protection
Since the underground church is illegal, meetings aren’t exactly an event that persecuted Christians desire to put out for public notice. If discovered, the leadership core of the underground church can be arrested, beaten, and blacklisted. We cannot remain silent as churches are burned and families are split.
The law does not protect believers in these types of nations, so religious liberties are non-existent. In the Western Church, we can call for religious liberties in such nations. However, the paradox is, the Gospel usually has to thrive before a theocracy’s stranglehold is ruptured. Free will precedes the right to conscience and Christians have certainly guarded those two liberties. Frankly, the blood of martyrs has often been forced to purchase its own religious liberties. With this knowledge, we can not be lax with our prayers.
Thus, it is imperative that each of us selects a certain region or country on the globe and dedicates prayer time for the underground churches. We can pray that God would put a hedge of protection around those of the faith in at-risk areas. God set a hedge of protection around Job, and since the precedent exists, why not pray it for forward for those who need it the most? Don’t know what areas to pray for? Visit persecution.org for a bevy of information that informs readers about whom they can pray for.
Additionally, ask God to put stumbling blocks in the paths of the persecutors and confuse their plans to silence the Gospel. If guardian angels are necessary to stand in the gap during perilous moments, then let us pray for them as well. Nothing is out of the box for our God, and limiting His area of operations has never been a sound prayer strategy.
Pray for Exhortation
Constant fear of imprisonment or maltreatment discourages even the bravest of persecuted Christians. Those who have suffered will attest that imprisonment and torture are not some momentary pinprick that causes small discomfort. Rather, our brothers and sisters are tested mentally, physically, spiritually with draconian oppression.
Thus, the underground church desperately needs encouragement in Christ. That comes in the form of joy through the Holy Spirit and trained pastors who can prepare their congregations for persecution. Just as we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival in the U.S., so can we do the same for other areas around the globe.
“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” -1 Peter 5:9
Pray for Cunning and Creativity
To worship and evangelize in secret depends upon the cunning and creativity of the congregants. We must pray that the Holt Spirit will inspire the persecuted church with ideas to outwit their persecutors when it comes to gathering and proclaiming the Gospel.
Also, these churches lack adequate amounts of Bibles, instruction materials, and advisors who can train their pastors. Pray that new inroads for smuggling Bibles and materials will be opened up and that more volunteers and Western pastors will flood these nations to furnish them with supplies and skills. Strong doctrine and practical skills can only serve to enhance such congregations.
This all seems like uphill sledding, but when a miracle is necessary, we do not search for them among mortal flesh. Instead, only a righteous and sovereign God can produce the inexplicable piercing of our natural existence. Our Heavenly Father is well acquainted with the blood of His beloved. His only begotten bled out in the face of His righteous fury, and by those wounds, we can rest assured that our Father has not forgotten the blood spilt by the hands of the unrighteous. Let us not forget the blood spilt either, and with our prayers, funds, and efforts, we can partner with God to spread the Gospel in the darkest corners of the globe.
Kevin Cochrane is a writer with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with exposed ears to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. Want to read more? Check him out at themajestysmen.com/author/kevincochrane, a friendship and mentoring community for Christian males. For updates on his latest blog posts here at restandrefuge.wordpress.com, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email. To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.