“How Would I Respond to Persecution?” is not a hypothetical question

After hearing the story of Richard Wurmbrand or other Christians who have been tortured for Christ, we sometimes ask ourselves, “What would I do if I was in that situation? Would I be faithful?”

But that is the wrong question because we actually are in that situation.

It is the same principle as when we have a toothache. Our foot does not say, “I thank God I am not in pain.” Instead, when we have a toothache our whole body is focused on it. We can’t do anything else until we attend to the pain in our tooth. We even pace around on our feet or walk to the dentist because our one body is built to work together to alleviate the pain in any part of it.

The Bible says that we are one body in Christ. The Christians who currently suffer for the name of a Christ in more than 70 countries are one body with us. Hebrews 13:3 commands us to remember them as though in prison with them. 

So we cannot say, “What would I do?”, as if we were engaging in a merely theoretical exercise. We must instead say, “What will I do?”, because the one body of Christ of which I am a member is actually, presently suffering. The only thing that has changed since the time of Rev. Wurmbrand is that more Christians are being persecuted in more places more often.

The fact that we ourselves aren’t the part of the body of Christ which is in jail does not mean we are not experiencing persecution. It just means that we are the part of the body that God has placed is in the best position to help the rest of the body. That is why we should never pray, “Thank you, God, that I live in a land where I am free to worship as I choose.” Only part of your body is in such a land. The rest of your body is in a land where worshiping as God calls often requires time in jail, or worse. With 70 countries restricting Christianity and 1 in 3 Asians currently living in such countries, the part of your body in prison is substantial.

So what help can our part of the body provide to the part that is presently suffering?

Rev. Wurmbrand offered “howling in pain” as a good place to start. Isn’t that what we do when some part of our own body is in acute pain? It also may be a much better description of the action that we should take than “pray”. It is worth noting that the Bible does not command us to “pray” for those who are suffering for Christ but rather to remember them as though we were imprisoned with them. That calls for something more akin to a howl than a pious remembrance.

 

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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