This past Sunday we looked at the final Beatitude in Matthew 5,
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The main focus of this text was for us to evaluate whether or not we are enduring any opposition from the world because of how we live our lives on mission for Jesus Christ. We talked about if we do not endure any opposition whatsoever, why not? Are we compromising our convictions or the Great Commission itself in favor of the opinions of man? Paul promises persecution to all those who “desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:12), so if we are not enduring any kind of opposition whatsoever, why not?
Although this was the primary focus of our study, I did mention that there are places in our world today where Christians are severely persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:3 tells us to pray for our brothers and sisters “who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering”. We need to be interceding for our brothers and sisters around the globe who are persecuted because they follow Jesus, but how can we pray for those whom we do not even know? The call to prayer for the persecuted is a call to awareness about the persecuted.
Along those lines, I wanted to pass along some resources that might be helpful in becoming more aware of the condition of the persecuted worldwide. The following are two great resources, from which I received updates just today of recent news about persecuted brothers and sisters.
Voice of the Martyrs – www.persecution.com – Their website is filled with resources. One of the most helpful resources they offer is their “Prisoner Alert Newsletter”. Youcan sign up to receive this electronic newsletter via email. I received one today that provided an update on a pastor in Iran who was arrested in October of 2009, and whose sentence of death was just yesterday upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court. You can read about Pastor Youcef here.
Open Doors USA – www.opendoorsusa.org – They also offer a ton of information about worldwide persecution of believers. Of particular help to me as been their e-mailed prayer updates, as well as the World Watch List. This resource is a list of the countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians. Reading through this list brings awareness of the plight of brothers and sisters around the world, and the Holy Spirit has often used these reading to move me to pray for them.
I encourage you to become more aware of what our fellow family members are enduring worldwide, so that you are moved to pray for them regularly.