MENA (MNN) — When you pray for the persecuted Church around the world, what do you pray for? Do you ask God to simply remove persecuted Christians from their hostile contexts? Or do you pray for their faithful witness in the midst of persecution?
Yesterday was the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) – a time for concentrated prayer for the encouragement and perseverance of believers who are attacked because of their faith. Although IDOP 2020 is over, Frontiers USA president Bob Blincoe has some thoughts on how we can continue to meaningfully support the persecuted Church.
Frontiers USA supports Gospel outreach in the Muslim world. Blincoe says rather than pull the Church out of persecution contexts like the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), believers need to recognize that persecution is a hopeful sign that the Gospel is present in hostile regions.
“There are places in the Muslim world where the Church is not persecuted because there is no Church,” Blincoe says. “There are no churches gathered in many Muslim countries.
“Let’s keep pressing on, sending missionaries, and not be simply shocked and paralyzed because there is a persecuted Church. [Let’s] not simply feel sorry for the persecuted Church. Although our sorrow and grief are real, let us push on until the witness of the Gospel has gone to the Afghanistans of the world [and] the Pakistans of the world.”
When facing persecution, Jesus commands His followers in Matthew 5:44 to “pray for those who persecute you.”
For example, take Ronnie Smith, an American Christian who moved to Benghazi, Libya as a teacher and was killed for his faith in 2013. Ronnie went on a morning jog and was gunned down, leaving behind his wife Anita and their young son.
After Ronnie’s martyrdom, Anita bore witness to her husband’s legacy of faith.
“[Anita] was subsequently interviewed on Muslim networks all over the world, including American English language networks, expressing her forgiveness for the men who took her husband’s life,” Blincoe says.
“People had no category for what she was able to do. So God has borne witness to the love of Christ, even in the midst of her terrible loss.”
Please commit to regular prayer throughout the year for the persecuted Church. A good place to start is Frontiers’ prayer guides for both believers and non-believers in the Muslim world.
Blincoe says, “We pray that the good news that has come to us will prevail in the Muslim world and they will be part of the free world now and part of God’s eternal Church in the life to come.”
Header photo courtesy of Amaury Gutierrez via Unsplash.