What is the Fruit of Persecution
(November - Week 4)
(1). Acts 8:1, 4 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria… 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Fruit - evangelism)
(2). “To Mrs. Litovchenko, the paralyzed wife of the pastor whom we killed along the Eizovo River: I wish to tell you that I am sorry, more than you can ever know. To Nina Rudenko, the beautiful little teen-age girl whose life was ruined by my attack group, I ask, please forgive us. And, finally, to Natasha, whom I beat terribly and who was willing to be beaten a third time for her faith, …, largely because of you, my life is now changed and I am a fellow believer in Christ with you. I have a new life before me. God has forgiven me; I hope you can also.” (Fruit - conversion of persecutors) [Sergei Kourdakov, The Persecutor]
(3). “Philip James Elliot was an evangelical Christian missionary to Ecuador who, along with four others, was killed while attempting to evangelize the Waodani people through efforts known as Operation Auca. Elliot and his friends became instantly known worldwide as martyrs, and Life Magazine published a ten-page article on their mission and death. They are credited with sparking an interest in Christian missions among the youth of their time and are still considered an encouragement to Christian missionaries working throughout the world.” (Fruit - other missionaries) [http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/Jim-Elliot-Quotes/]
(4). “With tears in his eyes, (pseudonym) ’Pencil’ told Andrew the fate of his three friends. He shared how they had been bold witnesses for Christ, and how he had hid in fear as his best friends were taken away,” the report said. “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” Andrew asked, and “Pencil” told him, “I want to learn how to be brave like my friends, and unafraid to share Jesus.” … (“Pencil” was later arrested after he had returned to North Korea) His following interrogation quickly turned to torture, VOM said, as officers demanded to know the source of the Bible, and that “Pencil” recant… Beatings and torture, including pulling out his fingernails, followed… He was ordered to a labor camp. “Because of his endurance and how he shared the love of Jesus, many in the camp turned to Christ,” the VOM report said. “After two months in the camp, Pencil died. He never saw his 20th birthday. His body was removed from the camp, but the fruit of his short ministry there lived on.” (Fruit - courage to other believers) [Voice of the Martyrs - October 26, 2006 - Teen’s Testimony of Faith Unstopped By Death]
(5). Galatians 1:22-24 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
(6). Prayer thought: Acts 9: 4-5 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5“Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,”. When one is hacking at the vine branches, they are hacking at the vine. When one is persecuting the Christian, they are persecuting Christ. There will come a time when those who have died for Christ will see judgment (Revelations 6:9-11). Yet now as we pray for both the persecuted and the persecutors, we give thanks that there is fruit to the glory of God and Jesus Christ.
Who Are the Persecutors
(November - Week 3)
(1). “There was no question that Moiseyev must be brought to a formal trial. For eighteen incredible months he had openly defied the Red army and withstood the most dedicated political efforts at reeducation. His insistence that he had not broken any Soviet laws but was suffering as a believer was a direct slander against the Soviet stated and social order.” [Persecutors: the Russian Army (Vanya - Chapter 11)]
(2). “A new report has just emerged on the treatment of Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, a 44-year-old Mennonite minister sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for allegedly attempting to "undermine national unity." The charge is a common one used by the Vietnamese government to detain political prisoners, including pastors who refuse to stop conducting ministry work without government permission.” [Persecutors: the Vietnamese government (International Christian Concern - October 21, 2013)]
(3). In Israel - “Both Arab and Jewish believers are persecuted and harassed, sometimes violently. Muslim extremists periodically persecute Arab Christians, particularly those from Muslim backgrounds... In addition, there have been several incidents of persecution against Jewish believers by ultra-orthodox Jews within Israel. Well-organized and well-funded Jewish groups, such as Yad L’Achim, are dedicated to removing the witness of Christ from Israel, and these groups have influence within the Israeli government. These anti-missionary, ultra-orthodox Jewish groups have increasingly resorted to violence in recent years.” [Persecutors: other religious groups - Jewish and Muslim (Voice of the Martyrs - Restricted Nations)]
(4). “For the eleventh year running, this (North Korea) is the most difficult place on earth to be a Christian. One of the remaining Communist states, it is vehemently opposed to religion of any kind. Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution. There is a system of labour camps including the renowned prison No. 15, which reportedly houses 6,000 Christians alone. But despite severe oppression, there is a growing underground church movement of an estimated 400,000 Christians.” [Persecutors: North Korean government - 50 Worst Countries to Live in if You are a Christian (Open Doors USA)]
(5). Acts 22:4 I (Paul) persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, ...
(6). Prayer thought: Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Governments, religious groups, or individuals, we pray for the persecutors to come to know Christ.
Where is the Persecuted Church Today
(November - Week 2)
(1). One young woman in Eritrea was tortured in order to get her to recant. With that not working, the prison commander was able to arrest her visiting pastor, then told her that the pastor had denied Christ and had regretted deceiving those in the Church in following Christ. They told her that the pastor urged her to deny Christ also. She responded, “I do not believe my pastor would deny his Savior. But even if he did, I would not deny my Lord and Redeemer. I do not follow my pastor. I follow Christ, my Lord.” [International Christian Concern - 10/25/2013]
(2). A member of Afghanistan’s parliament has suggested that anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity should be executed in order to stop the rapid growth of Christianity among Afghans. The declaration by Nazir Ahmad Hanafi is the latest in a series of anti-Christian statements by Afghan public officials. An Afghan news service quoted Mr. Hanafi as saying, “Numerous Afghans have become Christians in India. This is an offense to Islamic laws, and according to the Quran, they need to be executed.” [Voice of the Martyrs - 9/19/2013]
(3). A number of Christians in Syria are deciding to stay behind and heed what they say is God's call to reach out to their Muslim neighbors despite the violent attacks against them. [The Christian Post Interview With Open Doors USA - 10/5/2013]
(4). Rebel groups and drug lords in Colombia thrive on violence and chaos. Hostile toward Christianity they threaten pastors and church-leaders who work to spread the peace of Jesus. Those who preach the gospel are given a choice; stop their activities or lose their children. Threatened, most choose to continue doing God’s work… in spite of the risk. [One With Them - Stories of Persecution - 2012]
(5). “The first request from persecuted Christians is often ‘Pray for us.’” [Voice of the Martyrs]
(6). 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned;struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
(7). Prayer thought: What is the cost for our brothers and sisters to be persecuted in the Church today? What is the cost for us to pray for these brothers and sisters?
Praying for the Persecuted Church
Who is the Persecuted Church
(November 2013 - Week 1)
(1). Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(2). Hebrews 11:35-38 There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
(3). 2 Timothy 3:10-12 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
(4). John 15:18-20 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
(5). “Against the persecution of a tyrant, the godly have no remedy but prayer.” [John Calvin]
(6). Prayer thought: Jesus said we will be hated and we will be persecuted. We are promised blessing and reward in return. But if we are free from persecution at the present time, we are not free from praying for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted.