You never know what amazing things God is going to do on one of these trips—-and this time was no different.
The spiritual warfare around this trip was at an all-time high, but God refused to let Satan win the victory. Our group—old and young—was touched by the experience, many found freedom from besetting sins and struggles, and many returned home determined to put Hebrews 13:3 to practice in our daily lives.
“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
So often I’ve read about the persecuted church or heard about their trials and tribulations, but allowed it to be something which just stayed in the back of my mind. Sure, I know a few missionaries, but I’d never had a chance to meet someone who had suffered—I mean REALLY suffered—for our Savior.
Until last Wednesday night.
Through God’s providential timing, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to literally sit on the floor at the feet of a man who has suffered for Christ in ways I cannot imagine. Fresh off the plane from Australia, this mild, soft-spoken Pakistani believer hadn’t slept in over 30 hours, but was fueled by the passion of passing along his story of courage and faith to the next generation.
With twenty-three of us and our neighboring apartment mates crammed into a tiny living room, he shared with our group a message specifically aimed at the next generation—-the ones who will be the future of our nation. He challenged us with the truth that persecution is alive and real, told us about his story as the first Pakistani convicted under the anti-blasphemy law (the same one currently holding Asia Bibi), recounted his escape to Australia—only to find himself at the center of a hate-crime lawsuit brought on by Islamists in this supposedly free and conservative country. His story of God’s miraculous provision and deliverance, as well as his warning about the future of our land, is something that will stay with me for I pray the rest of my life.
Opportunities like this don’t come often, and since I returned, I’ve asked God what would He have me to do with it. Nothing God brings into our lives is by chance, and I know this encounter wasn’t a mere coincidence.
Upon my return home, I found myself carrying not just a new awareness in my heart, but also a nagging sinus ailment. While my body felt miserable, my brain was still active, so I took advantage of the rest time to pick up a copy of God’s Missiles Over Cuba by Tom White that I had brought home. An easy read, I devoured this book in just a few hours and was challenged by his story of surviving a horrific imprisonment in communist Cuba.
As the story came to a close, I thought about how easy it would be to just close the cover and move on with my life. But that wouldn’t do me any good—-or my persecuted brothers and sisters.
So as I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that even now, thousands of miles away, I can do something, in fact several things, that will make a difference, through God’s grace. I’d like to challenge each of you, my readers and friends, to join me in this opportunity to remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.
This is the easiest to do and sadly, the one I most neglect. We have the opportunity to come boldly before the throne room of grace anytime we choose and lift up the needs of our brothers and sisters in bonds. It’s time we stood in the gap for our family members and prayed for their protection, their comfort, their courage to stand strong, and their hurting relatives and friends. Not sure HOW to pray? Check out the Prisoner Alert website. You’ll find it addicting in a good way, as you can keep up with the needs and updates in the lives of those imprisoned.
Petitioning God is the most important thing we can do, but petitioning earthly authorities is another way that you can make a difference. Floods of letters calling for the release of a prisoner or even just a simple note to a brother or sister in jail can have a major impact. Prisoner Alert is again a good source, as they will automatically translate your letter into the native language.
Take time to learn more about different ministries who are fighting to spread the gospel, no matter the cost. Also, discover for yourself the stories of those who have been faithful to the cause of Christ.
Here’s a few suggested resources:
As God opens up opportunities, get up off your couch and get involved! Pray about spending time volunteering at a ministry like Voice of the Martyrs, organize a church project to make parachutes for dropping over Columbia, attend a missions conference (this free VOM conference is in Houston on Saturday, February 25), or take a short-term trip to China, the Philippines, or another restricted nation.