Praying for the persecuted Church was one of the most life changing experiences. I had never really let myself sit so deep in the hurt that people face because of their faith in Jesus.
MaryKate Morse told a story of a group of Christians working in Egypt in a small village trying to make money to send back to their family. She spoke of how ISIS kidnapped them and offered to spare them their life, but only if they converted to Islam. All of these men refused to deny Jesus-- and they were murdered for it.
As story after story was told on the persecuted church it created such unrest in my soul. If my life was on the line, would I choose to hold fast to God or would I choose to save my own life? How important is it to me to honor God and hold fast to Him as the only important thing in my life?
Women and men are dying every day for their belief in Christ Jesus; yet here I am free to worship my savior. People are gathered in homes in secret meetings for church; I am free to go to church without fear of my life. Men and women in so many countries are not allowed to have a bible or a cross, yet I can read my bible with my cross hanging on my wall. How is it, that simply by being born into a certain country, I am free to practice my faith where as my brother and sisters in Christ do so at the risk of losing their life?
I admit to hearing of persecution of Christians in places like Kenya and Nigeria and being sad, perhaps even praying a quick prayer. We were challenged however after hearing these stories to pray for these people in the same way with the same urgency and love that we would pray for our own blood brothers and sisters if they were in such danger. I am in the family of Christ, and all of those in the kingdom Christ holds dearly and beloved, thus I should hold them in the same regard and pray for them with such love and urgency.
The phrase "Those who share our faith, but not our freedom" was used throughout the service. I lamented on that idea as thousands of voices broke out into song worshipping Christ Jesus as people prayed at the foot of pillars plastered with the names of countries that face severe persecution.
Tonight I realized just how important it is to not only look outside ourselves but to be thankful to God for what he has given us, and use the blessings we have to bless and pray for other people to be given strength by God.