A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending an Open Doors Partner Church gathering in Wokingham. Open Doors is a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians in over 60 countries where they consider Christianity to be socially, or legally discouraged, or oppressed.
It was incredibly humbling and faith-building to hear stories from brothers and sisters around the world who are living in persecution. Some key principles came out of their experience that will encourage every follower of Christ:
· Within the persecuted church there is an absolute determination to be thankful even in the darkest place. Thankfulness is incredibly powerful and helps us to keep God at the centre of our lives even when circumstances are difficult. The bible tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
· Believers in the persecuted church know they won’t get through their trials unless their relationship with Jesus is intensely personal. The book of Hebrews in the bible talks about a great shaking so that “what cannot be shaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:27). Jesus is the one thing in the world that cannot be shaken, and so deepening our relationship with Him should become our highest priority.
· Those suffering persecution know that they must dedicate themselves to the daily discipline of devotion, or bitterness will win in their lives. If we just come into God’s presence in the good times, then we won’t build any resilience for when times are bad. Therefore, developing godly habits that will sustain us, whatever the season, should be our preoccupation.
These are just a some of the profound lessons that can be learnt from our suffering church family across the world. Take some time this month to pray for the persecuted church and to apply these precious principles that have come to us at great cost.
For more information visit www.opendoorsuk.org