Saturday, November 12, 2011

Remember Them

They are stories that become part of me.  Images I can see so vividly.

Home and all the comfort that brings.  Family together, laughing, being, breathing.  Until a grenade is thrown into the house.  Peace becomes mourning in an instant.

A young girl.  Ten years old.  Killed by the blast.  Winnie.  Daughter.  Sister.

A man.  Twenty-five years old.  Younger than me.  Killed.  John.

Two brothers forced to see their kindred dying in front of them.  They are, themselves, severely burned.  Samuel.  Peter.  Witnesses too young to understand.

Their grandmother watches in horror.  Bone of her bones.  Flesh of her flesh.  Unable to save.  Unable to comfort.  She, too, is badly burned.  Rachel

This is the reality of many around the world.  Chased out of their homes.  Churches burned down.  Bibles confiscated.  Women raped.  Grenades rocking houses.  Children taken away.  Banished.  Prison.  Beatings.

This is happening now.  Right now.  As I type, warm and safe.

Their crime?  Claiming Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Jesus knew this was to come.  What?  In fact, He told his disciples to expect it.  Hard to fathom here in safe America.  (John 15:19-21)

In this safe America, I remember learning years ago that Christians were being persecuted daily.  I was shocked.  Why has no one told me this before?  I thought persecution was rare.  A thing of the past, mostly.  Very rare, isolated instances, at the most.

My eyes were opened and I have never been the same.  I began getting weekly email updates on persecution around the world.  Names flowed.  Countries swirled in my head.  What am I to do?  I cannot save these people.  I do not even have a frame of reference for their suffering.  And the stories keep coming.  Every week.  What am I to do?

Pray.  Remember.  (Hebrews 13:3)

Pray for physical healing.  Pray for emotional well-being.  Pray for further protection.  Pray for those in chains to feel the presence of God.  For God to call to their minds scriptures and songs to bring them comfort.

That prayer flows freely from me.  Compassion for the persecuted wells in my heart and overflows.  I feel like this is it, but God gives me a not-so-little nudge.

What about the persecutors?

No way.  God's answer to the persecutors seems all wrong.

He does not call for vengeance.  This is hard for me.  I crave justice.  I love when the bad guy dies in movies.  Books that bring the evil to their ruin seem...right.  I want these persecutors brought to their punishment.  I want to watch it and revel in it.  But then I hear God.

What right have you?  What sins have you?  I do not require you to bring about my righteous judgment.

So I reluctantly get on board with not craving vengeance.  It is liberating.

Then God speaks again.  (That guy sure has a lot to say.)

On top of this God adds love.  Love?  Really?  I wrestle.  I argue in my mind with God.  I list out my reasons.  God does not change His mind.  (He rarely does.)  So I pray for the love.  (Matt 5:44)

It comes and I am changed.  I see the persecutors as children themselves.  I wonder how I would have reacted if I had been raised to hate.  It is a powerful thing.  Could I rise above it?  Would I become a persecutor?  I feel compassion.  I love them.

Once I have made this giant step, the last is much easier:  Pray for them.  I do.  The love increases.

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church.  Open your eyes.  Open your hearts.  Pray.  Diligently.  Fervently.  Make it part of who you are and what you do.  You will see the change in you.

To receive weekly email updates on persecution around the world, you can go to or


  1. thanks for reminding me.

    i follow on twitter, but i think the emails would be helpful to keep me remembering those all over the world who are being persecuted.

  2. I prefer the updates from It is the Canadian Voice of the Martyrs. I feel like their updates are more consise and thorough at the same time. They also come on the same day every week. is the American Voice of the Martyrs. It is also good. I just prefer the .net updates.

  3. I will always remember, as your college roommate, you reading your Bible and praying, every single night. And the schedule you had made out for when you would pray for whom... and I remember how loved & honored I felt when I saw my name on that list. God blesses through you. Not just the martyrs you pray for, but old college roommates too. love you.