Lifting the persecuted up in prayer is the most important thing we can do for our suffering family in Christ. It is also the number one thing they ask us for.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 31:8:
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,”
So what does this passage mean? We who are able to speak must speak on their behalf. We must represent them before the world. What does it mean to speak up for the persecuted? To begin with, don’t remain silent. Lots of Christians are horrified and against the persecution of Christians, but you wouldn’t know it. They never comment on it, never mention it in conversation or speech. Many Christian leaders, including pastors, say little about our persecuted family; they too are silent. But that’s not right, we must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. In counties of extreme persecution, their voices are silenced or ignored.
“for the rights of all who are destitute”
When one hears the word destitute, many imagine poverty. But this word also means deserted and abandoned, deprived of, devoid of, or lacking. Persecuted Christians certainly fit this description.
We must begin to talk about persecution with other people – informing those unaware and explaining how wrong it is. Don’t be afraid, don’t be intimidated. Yes, it’s a hard thing to hear and many may be uncomfortable with this topic. But we can’t remain silent or else many more will suffer. We aren’t ok with it. We want it stopped. We want laws in place that protect all people in their right to worship freely. And for those who wish to follow Christ, to do so without fear, as we do here in the West.
We need to speak up and speak clearly, loud enough to be heard. We need to speak with conviction, with feeling and passion. If you don’t know the horrors of persecution, then get informed. Learn how Christians are being affected and who is doing the persecuting and their reasoning for this abuse. You will then have conviction when you speak against it. It’s an emotional topic that gets us upset. It should get you upset too. So speak up and say, “This is wrong and it needs to be stopped.”
Too many are tempted to stick to ourselves and defend our own rights, but less inclined to stand up for the rights of others. This mindset imagines that everyone is responsible for taking care of their own business. And that’s normally the case. Most of the many challenges we face are easily handled on our own. But sometimes that normal procedure doesn’t work, sometimes we have to intervene on behalf of others because through oppression—they are silenced. This is the case for many Christians in the world. Millions do not have or are at risk of losing the freedoms we enjoy, but rarely consider.
Many are wrongfully living under the threat of persecution and even death. Can you imagine what that is like? Who will defend the rights of those abused, when they are not allowed to defend themselves or their words are irrelevant? Many times they are afraid to even file a police report due to further persecution and little protection from the authorities. Many times these authorities are the very ones doing the persecuting. The list goes on.
Remember the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to first care for the broken person laying on the side of the road, caring enough to help. As free Christians, we should do the same for our persecuted family, members of the Body of Christ. We are the Body, we are a family. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one part is lacking, we all are lacking. Imagine life without a limb or a family member. The loss will affect you for a lifetime.
We must make it a point to care about them, take action and do something to help them to endure and survive. As the early Christians did for each other, in love to ensure their survival. If we choose not to speak up and take action, our apathy is interpreted as we don’t care. Many who are being persecuted are wondering the same. Many ask, “When will they come to our aid?” Are there any caring people left?” Have they deserted us?” Have we deserted them?
When we remain silent, our government leaders figure that we don’t have strong feelings against the persecution of Christians, so they’ll take no action upholding laws and finding ways to stop it. If we don’t object and speak out against this atrocity, it’s taken by society that we accept it, it’s not much of a problem, or an event not truly taking place. Our apathy makes a statement. So we must speak out in objection. Have you been silent on the topic of the extreme, modern-day Christian persecution? If so, the hour is late… it’s NOW time to object!
It’s not enough to speak out once or twice. We have to keep on advocating against persecution and the violations of religious freedoms and human rights. When election time comes, we must remember those who are concerned for religious freedom and this very real and escalating problem. We need leaders in our nation who will do whatever they can to oppose persecution.
When this nation was founded, our leaders went to great lengths to ensure and protect our freedom of religion. Many use the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ as in the First Amendment. These words do not appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Quoting Dr. John Eastman, a distinguished law professor at Chapman University:
“The first line creates the most contention, as it involves two separate religious articles — the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. It is the former that most atheist activists tend to focus on, and according to Eastman, their assessments are generally wrong-headed.
Rather than a decry waged against any inclusion of faith in the public square, the professor claims that this portion of the document speaks against a forced state-imposed faith.
“It tells us that we don’t want a national religion — a state-coerced national religion, a one-size-fits-all, everybody-has-to-join [system].”
State imposed faith is many times used to persecute today’s Christians. Look at what’s happening in Iran and Pakistan, or in nations where they are trying to establish ‘religious law’, such as Sharia. Many have been executed for converting to Christianity, or imprisoned as enemies of the state for following and sharing the love of Christ (See Pastor Saeed). And for others simply disagreeing that they should follow a man or prophet instead of Christ, may put them behind bars. One example is how the blasphemy law is used against Christians in Pakistan.
We need leaders who with the authority and ability will hold nations accountable that have signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and take actions against those who violate ARTICLE 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
And also those who will call attention to the international community against these atrocities committed in any nation. We must not only listen to these political leaders, but look at their actions—they speak louder than smooth campaign speeches. As we have seen, many politicians will say one thing to get elected, but do the opposite once in office. It is your responsibility to know who you are voting for. As their constituent, they should be interested in your opinions.
Some have asked if it is Biblical to contact our elected officials and ask them to stand for the rights of the persecuted. We say YES! Earlier we mentioned Proverbs 13:8, now let’s look at the book of Esther (4:13-14).
When Mordecai became aware of a plot to have every Jew in Persia killed, he challenged Esther with these words.
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14
Esther urged all of the Jews to fast and pray for deliverance. Then risking her own life, bravely Esther approached the king with a plan.
She invited Xerxes and Haman to a banquet where she revealed her Jewish heritage to the king, as well as Haman’s plot to have her and her people killed. In a rage, the king ordered Haman to be hung on the gallows—the very same gallows Haman had built for Mordecai.
Mordecai was promoted to Haman’s high position and Jews were granted protection throughout the land. As the people celebrated God’s tremendous deliverance, the festival of Purim was instituted.
So as a Jew, she went to the government authority and pled the case for her people and through her, they were saved.
One may say that when we read all of Chapter 4: – all of the Jewish people prayed in sackcloth and ashes – while only Queen Esther went unbidden into the king saying “… and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
In this Biblical example – only one person ‘took political action’ – and that with the very real possibility of death being the consequence for her illegal action! How many of us would be willing to face death if that was the very real possible consequence of our “Contacting your elected officials” aka ‘take political action’?
We appreciate these questions as one tries to discern their role in aiding our persecuted family.
Mordecai addresses the question to Esther, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Though we may not be royalty, we believe this verse can relate to us who have been blessed so greatly in a nation with many freedoms! Esther had the ability to be in the company of the king (government authority) when others did not. With our freedoms here in the U.S., we too have the ability to address and be heard by our leaders. To make a difference in the lives of others who are desperately needing us to stand up and use our voice!
At this time, we are able to contact our officials without the threat of death. Not all in the world enjoy this same opportunity. We know in other nations, some have perished standing up for religious freedom and discrimination. We also know many who in standing up for Christians have been and are being threatened with the very real possibility of losing their life. We have recently been asked and agreed to aid a Christian facing this very issue. As Christians we are told to follow Christ. This means living in the way of his example. Lets look at another Bible passage, John 15:10-17.
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”
Christ laid down his life for us because of his great love for us, we are his. The last command in this passage is that we “Love each other”. We did not choose him, he chose us. We are appointed to bear fruit that will last. We can ask the Father for anything in his name. Should we not ask for the faith to trust the outcome as we aid our family in Christ. Will the Father ignore this request? We were not made to be timid and weak. We were created to be strong and courageous in Christ.
So we pose this question:
WHO KNOWS that you have been placed in a country with great freedom, and in a position with ability to speak for those who can not speak—FOR A TIME SUCH AS THIS?
It is no coincidence that you are reading this, today. Is God awakening and calling you to a purpose for our family being persecuted? Is HE calling you to STAND UP and be their VOICE?
Please continue to lift up our persecuted family in prayer! May God bless and guide your path—always.
Lois Kanalos, Founder/Advocate