The Persecuted Church
Brother Jarrell Correll
We are introduced to Pastor Murat who lives amongst extremists in Central Asia. He has a calling to spread the message of Jesus Christ, however he is at great risk in doing so.
One day a man burst into Pastor Murat’s place & said he was going to kill him, by cutting off his head.
Pastor Murat was in fear and prayed. He was reminded of a Bible verse. “Not one of your hairs will fall to the ground without the will of the Creator”.
Then he said to the man. “If God wills that I die you can do it …. But if not you cannot do anything”.
Pastor Murat asked the man. “Do you want me to pray for you?” The man said “YES”.
When he began to pray for the man, the man had tears in his eyes. Even extremists, though they might be cruel and do evil things …. Their hearts can be touched by God! God’s love can do things that no man can!
The neighbor that threatened to behead him now serves in the ministry with Pastor Murat.
God is doing amazing things even in the hearts of extremists.
Pastor Murat is just one man, and Central Asia is just one region representing the persecution that Christians face worldwide.
Facts about global Christian persecution:
• In North Korea, the very act of owning a Bible can mean instantaneous death.
• In Iraq, just a few thousand Christians now remain after ISIS infiltrated the country in 2014.
• In northern Nigeria, an average of 5 churches are attacked every single Sunday.
• In Colombia, pastors are targeted and often killed by guerilla groups and drug cartels, who view the gospel as a direct threat to their way of life.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION?
Jesus tells Christians to rejoice when they are persecuted for his sake.
Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV)
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Suffering isn’t wasted. God uses it to grow his people.
Romans 5:1-4 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Paul’s chains advanced the gospel and encouraged other believers.
Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.
13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
We are one Body—connected.
1 Corinthians 12:26 (NIV)
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION?
The number one thing persecuted Christians ask for is prayer. They often don’t ask to be removed from persecution or freed from danger. Instead, they ask for prayer, that they may stand strong and endure persecution for Christ to be a light to others.
They pray that when persecution comes …. When they are threatened …. When someone comes to kill them …. That until their last breath they will continue to cry out: Jesus is Lord.
WHAT SHOULD OUR RESPONSE BE?
Pray together as a congregation, and pray with the persecuted church around the world. When we pray with them, we pray that they remain strong to:
• Endure persecution
• Share the gospel with their neighbors
• Love their persecutors
Pray in our daily lives:
It is important to continue to lift our brothers and sisters and pray with them throughout the year.