News about Christians who are persecuted can easily paralyze us. From Iraq and Syria we regularly get stories about forced conversions, harassment, killings and bestial mass-executions of Christians. In Nigeria Boko Haram has been more active the past months than in many years. Several of their attacks have Christians as their target.
When we live far away from these “frontlines” we easily turn to just talk about and regret what happens. Through Facebook and other media we can also show compassion for those who are suffering. The Bible is however calling us to play a more active role in this war. Then it is important that we understand how our fight is not first and foremost against flesh and blood, but against “the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 4:12).
We can work both politically and through our armed forces to capture the terrorists leading ISIL, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab in order to put them on trial for their cruel actions. For us who believe in Jesus our fight must however also be targeted against the spiritual power they represent. Here are some ideas to how we can all engage in the war:
1. Suffer with those who suffer (1 Cor 12:26)
Big numbers create distance and it is difficult to imagine and pray for a situation where 200 million Christians are persecuted for their faith. Therefore it is important that you and your congregation create a direct link to Christians who are oppressed. This will give you first hand information about what is going on and enable you to suffer with the suffering.
2. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44)
We should meet harassment, violence and killings with condemnation. At the same time Jesus has given us a calling to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good against those who hate us and pray for those who mistreat and persecute us. It is important to pray in a concrete way. Preferably we can use the names of the terrorists when we pray for them. Choose at least one terrorist to pray for and pray on a regular basis for God to reveal his truth to him or her. You can find names and information about many terrorists at Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer´s website. (www.atfp.org).
3. Bring the Gospel where it is not known (Matt 28:18-20)
Jesus called us to bring the Gospel to all nations, not just to the places where we are not at risk. Many nations limit their people´s freedom of faith. There are however no nations that are closed for the Gospel and for the Holy Spirit. Christian professionals and business people can go to all nations. Through these tentmakers the good news about God´s salvation and peace can reach new regions and people. The task may be dangerous and we can be both wounded and killed. The consequences are however great for those who get an encounter with Jesus. One day we will stand together with them in front of God´s throne and praise him who has all power in heaven and in earth (Rev 7:9).
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