“I’m praying, I’m giving financially, but I really want to know: What more can I do to help persecuted believers?”
I get that question a lot when I speak about North Korean underground believers at conferences on Christian persecution.
Hebrews 12:1-2 offers a unexpected answer: Stop sinning.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This is actually a corollary of rather than an alternative to Hebrews 13:3, which says, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
In other words, if we really were in prison with persecuted believers, one of the things we (hopefully) wouldn’t be doing is regularly giving in to our besetting sins.
So if we are regularly giving in to our besetting sins at present, that’s a sign that we’re not preparing seriously for persecution…which is a sign that we are not taking the suffering of our brothers and sisters seriously.
“Yes,” we may say. “But I really want to do something to help them.”
Good. And that’s of course why we should not neglect prayers and financial support.
But imagine if you were a persecuted Christian, and you received a steady flow of letters from fellow believers around the world saying, “Your suffering has caused me to get serious about my Christian life. You have inspired me to throw off every weight and lay aside every sin that so easily besets me and instead run with perseverance the race God has set out for me.”
What greater help could we give a persecuted brother or sister than to let them know how God is using their life to disciple and bless many in the wider body of Christ?
I taught Sunday School to 11 year old children from 1969 to 1997. One lesson I never forget teaching was about Stephen ,the first martyr speaking boldly about Jesus and that He died for us. One of the girls looked mme straight into my eyes and said “would for for God”. I took me a few seconds and I said yes. If that meant the difference of those children going to knowing Jesus as I did and did knowing Him I would willing to suffer anything Jesus-even what Jesus did to bring all children to know Jesus and there names written in the Book of Life.
On that day I the memory verse for the children was Matthew16:24… For for whoever ever wants to save his life will it and and whoever loses life for my sake will will gain it.
It made me that day and I wuold die in some and I prayed “let bear everything as you did on the cross so I be a witness and bring millons to you” Because of what happen on that I am scared at all to be persecuted, I would afraid on 21/11/1987-I will do anything too be a witness for Jesus
Good to hear from you, Bruce. Your post reminded me of a quote Pastor Tim shared with the church this morning from Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband, Jim Elliot, was killed on the mission field by the people he came to serve. Elisabeth went on to take his place. She devoted her life to serving in Jesus’ name the people who killed her husband. And she wrote this:
“Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him after all, so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first? Furthermore, to live for God is to die, ‘daily,’ as the apostle Paul put it. It is to lose everything that we may gain Christ. It is in thus laying down our lives that we find them.”
In other words, in the case of the Sunday School children, you did lay down your life–daily–to bring them to Christ. Some witnessing happens in an instant and then we die; some witnessing happens through a daily death, and it requires a different kind of bravery and faith.
May the Lord bless and bring to fruition all that you planted in the lives of the children for more than three decades!
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It is only through Jesus that we can die daily. This is not an easy thing to do. We are indeed encouraged by brothers and sisters who suffer for Christ. I can imagine the apostle Paul approaching Stephen on “That Day”, to explain what an influence his death made to him. I can imagine many saints approaching many martyrs, and when they do, they will explain what a difference his or her death made in their lives, whether it was a daily death or a martyr death. I imagine each martyr will experience this as they are approached by the people who were influenced by them. What a glorious day that will be.
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