Friday, May 2, 2014

Stand With The Persecuted Church!

We Christians in North America, and particularly in the U.S., live in a spiritual bubble.  The Church of Jesus Christ around the world is facing intense persecution, perhaps greater than any time in history.  Yet, because it's not happening here yet, we are almost entire oblivious to it.  I say "yet," because I believe it is coming here, perhaps sooner than most of us can imagine.  

At this very moment, Christians in North Korea, China, the Philippines, Cuba, Mexico, the entire Muslim world, and many other places (even including much of Europe), are having their faith tried as never before.  Many pastors are being imprisoned for their faith. I know personally of a pastor of East India a few years ago who saw his daughter incinerated in front of him because he wouldn't denounce his faith.  Many such atrocities are being committed today against those who carry on the legacy of Christ.  

I'd like to share the story I received in my inbox a few weeks ago that really tugged at my heartstrings.  It is a letter from a imprisoned pastor in Eritrea to his wife, and it really speaks for itself:
God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence to five years and four month. I very much long for the day that I will be reunited with you my dear wife, our children and God's people in the church.
My dear, listen to me—not only as a wife, but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are. Yes! I love you, I love the children, and I would love to be free in order to serve God. But, in here, God has made me not only a sufferer for His Name’s sake in a prison of this world over which Christ has won victory, but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace. I am testing and experiencing the love and care of our Lord every day.
When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts which were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the church and over me. I thought the work of the gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God and that He is in control of all things—even here in prison.
The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, “Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell is [unsaved]. You are very much needed here.” So, on the same day I was put in prison, I carried on my spiritual work.
My dear, the longer I stay in here, the more I love my Saviour and tell the people here about His goodness. His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool? Well, isn’t that what the Apostle Paul said, “Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, I am Christ’s!”
My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the gospel.
If you are a Christian in North America (or elsewhere for that matter), I would encourage you to  I receive a new email every day (including the one which featured the pastor's letter above), telling about the work of God among those who are being persecuted for their faith.  You can sign up for it here.  I often read these emails during my morning quiet time with Jesus.  It helps me to remember to pray for the persecuted church, something that we are commanded to do in Hebrews 13:3.  Also, you can get updates from Christian organizations who stand along side persecuted Christians, including Open Doors and The Voice of the Martyrs.  Additionally, you can write to prisoners and even those who are imprisoning them at  If you are not aware of the plight of heroic American pastor Saeed Abedini, please follow this link to learn about his story and sign a petition for his release.  More than anything, please consider praying for the persecuted church daily.  I have found that doing this puts all the difficulties I might be facing in a far different life.  When I daily remind myself of the struggles of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in persecuted areas, my struggles seem puny by comparison!
educate yourself  about the persecuted church.  One great resource that I have found is the "Standing Strong Through The Storm" email from

P.S.  Recently, my blogging has had to decrease temporarily as I have been involved in another project through my church, Fair Haven Christ Fellowship.  We are starting a Back to Eden Community Garden here in Cynthiana, Indiana, based on the gardening methods Paul Gautschi explains in the fascinating film, "Back to Eden", which you can watch here.  I am producing a series of YouTube videos of our adventures in providing free produce to the people of Cynthiana and the surrounding areas.  You can watch the first one here.  If you like it, please "Like" the video on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube feed, so you can get update notifications.  You can also follow us at Fair Haven Christ Fellowship on Facebook and Twitter to receive these updates.

Here are links to a few more of my posts:
What Is Marriage?
Reflections On Thirty Years Of Marriage
Thoughts At 50-Living Between The Dash
September 15, 1963

For an inspirational lift, check out my new book, "Grace In Shoe Leather." It's an amazing story of grace and forgiveness that has made a difference in the lives of so many. You can download it here: 

Check Out My New Facebook Page - Flyover Country!