No, I don’t know your family history. But I do know that you and I have brothers and sisters from all over the world who are in prison. These are men and women that may not be related to us by blood, but they are connected to us by something far stronger than mere physical biology. Paul’s words to the Ephesian church remind us of just how important this connection really is. He says,
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:19-21)
Depending on what verse you turn to, this Christian connection is called the Bride of Christ, a family, a body, a church, a household and a temple. Can you think of any more powerful connection than these?
And some of the members of our family are in prison . . . for their faith!
You’ve no doubt heard about this before, but remember: This is a blog about hearing and doing, since Jesus reminded us of the emptiness of revealed knowledge without action.
Maybe you’re not sure what you yourself can do. Let me assure you that doing virtually anything is better than doing nothing!
1. The most important thing you can do is what Pastor Foley suggested in his Monday blog post: Stop sinning! In other words, let the example of imprisoned believers remind you of the urgency of getting your own life right with Christ! Observe their way of life and apply it to your own discipleship. (And by the way . . . if you bypass this suggestion then the rest of this post is rendered meaningless!)
2. Don’t forget about these Christians! This sounds simplistic, but in Christian discipleship the simplest things are often the most difficult. What we are talking about here is a spiritual discipline. Our lives are filled with work, school functions, children’s activities, shopping, TV, computer, and church Bible studies. We don’t have much time to think about a Christian who may be imprisoned in a place like Iran. But the spiritual discipline of “not forgetting” is exactly what Richard Wurmbrand asked us to practice in Tortured for Christ. He said,
The message I bring from the Underground Church is: “Don’t abandon us!” Don’t forget us!” Don’t write us off!” “Give us the tools we need! We will pay the price for using them!” This is the message I have been charged to deliver to the free church (pg. 144).
One simple way we can not forget our brothers and sisters in prison is by writing a letter to them. Voice of the Martyrs has a letter writing program whereby they show you how to write a letter, the benefits of writing such a letter, and who exactly to write a letter to. Right now they have opportunities to write letters to imprisoned believers in Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, and Sudan, among many other countries.
Imagine being in prison yourself . . . alone and not sure if anyone really knows or cares that you are in prison. Imagine receiving a letter from a believer halfway across the world whereby you realize that someone is praying for you!
3. Finally, Richard Wurmbrand mentioned that persecuted and imprisoned Christians desire tools. We can certainly be a help in providing these tools, but we must first understand what the tools are and how they should be provided. In other words, Christians in North Korea may need something different than Christians in Nigeria. Or Christians in Sudan and Christians in India may both want the Scriptures, but it may need to be delivered in different ways.
Let’s first take the time to listen to the persecuted and imprisoned church leaders and learn about the faithful church in their country and how we can come alongside them and serve the body of Christ together.