I recently listened to Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, say that he believes the American Church hasn’t done enough for the persecuted Church. Graham appeared on television with the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini to share his concern for Saeed and thousands of Christians around the world who are imprisoned and beaten for their faith in Jesus Christ. Pastor Abedini is an American citizen, but the government of Iran detained him two years ago (9/26/12) because of his Christian ministry. Iran believes the pastor is a threat to its national security.
Is Graham right that the American Church has not done enough for Christians around the world who are suffering, really suffering, for their faith in Christ? You bet he is and here’s why.
“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3
Here’s what God says about what we can do for the persecuted Church – “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them…” Do you know what that means, to remember someone who is in prison as if you were chained with them?
What would you do if you were chained to other Christians in a prison where you were beaten, starved and beaten again and again just because you are a Christian? Would you pray? Would you plead with God for release? Would you pray for the other Christians in prison with you as you saw them taken away for yet another beating? Would you pray for your family and their families who were suffering knowing what was happening to you in prison? What would you say to the other Christians when they returned from their beatings? Would you cry with them? Would you hurt for them? Would you tend to their wounds? Would you encourage them? Would you share what Bible verses you could remember? Would you lift their spirit by singing hymns and spiritual songs? What would you do if you were chained to other Christians in a prison where you all were beaten, starved and beaten again and again just because you are Christians?
Now, with that image burning in your mind read Hebrews 13:3 again – “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” What you would do if you were chained with other Christians in a prison undergoing unspeakable persecution is what God wants you to do now as members of the non-persecuted Church. Why? “… since you yourselves are in the body also.”
All Christians are members of the same spiritual Body. The Apostle Paul made that abundantly clear in his letters.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Romans 12:3-5
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many … But now indeed there are many members, yet one body … But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 20, 24-26
Look at that last verse again – “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” Think about that for a minute. If “one member” suffers, “all” the members suffer with it. Now, put that truth in perspective with the persecuted Church. If “millions” of members suffer, “you” suffer with them. Does that bring it home for you? God’s perspective is that all Christians suffer if just one Christian suffers. How does that line up with the fact millions of Christians are suffering right now around the world for their faith in Christ? Does God expect us to do something about it? Yes, He does.
We can pray for persecuted Christians every day – those who are imprisoned and those who are mistreated. Millions of Christians around the world are not in prison, yet, but they are mistreated because of their faith in Christ. Pray for them. Pray for them as if you were chained with them in their filthy prison. Pray for them as if you were being beaten and starved. Pray for them.
Prayer should always include ‘action.’ Support ministries that are working to free persecuted Christians around the world. Here are some of them. Read about what they’re doing and ask God to guide you in how you can help.
Thousands of Christians are ‘hands-on’ in their involvement to support the Persecuted Church around the world. They pray and they give generously of their money, possessions and time. May we all be involved in remembering our brothers and sisters – “as if chained with them.”
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”