Because the Lord God was on me, I took courage. Ezra 7:28
I apologize to all my Soul Conversations visitors for the lateness of this Veterans Day/International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted post. Here it is:
November 11th as we took the day to honor and remember those in our military for the sacrifices they have made in order to preserve, protect and defend our freedom, 200million people around the world in the restricted and hostile nations fight to not only their human rights, but the right to do what we come to church to do every Sunday.....to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To illustrate the point, I stood before the congregation of the church I belong to, with bruises and cuts on me, courtesy of make up and wore handcuffs and wearing a Voice of the Martyrs t-shirt reading
'I AM A CRIMINAL'. This, I told the congregation was done in an effort to show them the reality of the opposition and violence our brothers and sisters around the world face for openly worshiping our Lord and Savior.
As a part of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, I told the stories of Laotian Pastor Bouchan and Rikka, a teenager who was attacked by Muslim extremists while at Bible camp with her high school. Both the pastor and Rikka were horribly attacked. Beaten, starved and threatened to convert. Against these horrible forms of torture, they stood firm in their faith and were not broken.
Also, as a part of the presentation, I explained to the congregation the difference between a restricted and hostile nation was:
Restricted Nation-Christianity is illegal!
Hostile Nation-Governments consistently attempt to provide protection but Christians are victims of persecution because of their witness. That said, here two stories of those who were persecuted.
What can we do as the family of believers to reach out to our brothers and sisters to give them the emotional support that they need? The Voice of the Martyrs provides many opportunities to give, such as, Action Packs, Medical Care, Supporting Underground Pastors, Kids of Courage and many other great opportunities. I, for my part, am a part of the Be-A-Voice Network, I also receive the VOM prayer e-mail alerts and am now in training to become a Voice Volunteer Representative! You can find out about all the wonderful work VOM does on their website, www.persecution.com.
I would highly recommend obtaining a free copy of 'Tortured For Christ' written by VOM's founder Pastor Richard Wurbrand about his time spent in a Romanian prison for his faith. It is an inspiring story.
All of this said, I want to leave you with something equally important. No matter where people reside in the world, no matter what culture a person belongs to, no matter what religion one practices, no matter what walk of life a person leads, WE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS! And as important as it is to pray for the persecuted, we must also pray for their persecuters.....that they will one day come to Christ. God Bless and Amen, Liz Ciccone