International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church #HopeforNations

Today, November 2, 2014 is the International Day of Prayer. Did you know that?

I followed Instagram and Twitter feeds and read stories from the field when a few of my friends shared from the Middle East late last month, October 2014. My friends went there to learn the stories of refugees who had to leave home and everything behind to flee for their lives from persecution and martyrdom. They were there to see firsthand what is really happening in Iraq, and to help provide food, blankets, medicine, and hope to those who have nothing now.

The stories were difficult to follow. Heartbreaking, to say the least. It was hard to imagine the suddenness of being displaced, especially when I have so many hopes, dreams, and visions for my future and my family’s future. I cannot imagine that being ripped away from us. Most of the refugees lived lives, aside from cultural differences, not much different than our own. They had families, homes, jobs, schools, dinner on the table at night, beds to sleep in, and all of that has been stolen from them.

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Image Source: World Help

It is easy to feel helpless and even guilty in this blessed life I live. But, if I give in to either of those negative emotions, what good will I do for those truly suffering? I keep asking the Lord to keep me mindful of them. I want to care. I do not want to forget I have brothers and sisters in Christ enduring unimaginable tribulations and persecutions.

I read today, on World Help’s blog,

This is no imaginary suffering. Believers worldwide are risking everything—even their lives—for the sake of the Gospel.

In China, they face torture and imprisonment for gathering to worship in secret.
In North Korea, they are sent to concentration camps for owning a Bible.
In India, their churches are burned to the ground and their women raped and tortured.
In the Central African Republic, their businesses are destroyed and their homes demolished.

As we speak, our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq are being beaten, beheaded, and even crucified simply for their belief in Jesus . . . even the children.

Sometimes the reality of it and the heartbreak comes in waves and I break. I cry and I pray and I give. It is the least I can do. It is the least any one of us can do.

I have a friend, Darlene, who is also a World Help Blogger. She wrote a post that impacted my heart. Not just because of beautiful writing, but compassionate action. Here is an excerpt:

I lay in bed several weeks ago with a burden so great I could hardly sleep. Lord, what’s my part? How can I practically help those who are persecuted all over this world?

The numbers are insurmountable. So big it’s easy to be overwhelmed and turn away. But what would happen if we stopped looking at huge numbers and started looking at the faces behind the numbers? Perhaps in this simple act of ‘seeing’ we’d find that rather than apathy, compassion rises and chooses to make a difference.

That’s what happened to us. Keep reading Darlene’s story…

Here is what you and I can do.


 

Keep Informed and Keep Caring

Many times it is out-of-sight, out-of-mind for me. If I am not seeing it or experiencing it, sometimes I forget it exists. Life threatening persecution exists. This is one of the many reasons I love being a World Help Blogger. World Help reminds me to keep my eyes and heart on what is most important. Follow the stories here.

Pray and Give

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3)

“When the chaos rages out of control and innocent lives are suffering the unthinkable . . . our prayers are the most important gift we can give now.” — World Help

I keep thinking of these words in 1 Corinthians 12:26…”If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Is that true? It’s in the Bible. Is it true for me? I want it to be.

Compassion means to suffer with, and compassion should move us to action. Prayer is action and so is giving. Giving of our time. Giving from our resources. Giving from our bank account. Especially for the Iraqi refugees right now. A gift of $20 is enough to provide food and medicine for 1 refugee child for one month.

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Sometimes it seems like our small effort is making no difference at all, especially our invisible prayers. And maybe we won’t know what difference we made as long as we walk this earth. But that should never keep us from trying.