November 13, 2019
Dear Praying Friends,
Thank you for your willingness to pray each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival. When writing to the Galatians, Paul said, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Gal.6:9).
For a number of weeks, many of us have been praying for the persecuted church in anticipation of having the group “Open Doors” come to Langstaff Assembly for a presentation. There was an encouraging number of believers from throughout the Greater Toronto Area and we were greatly challenged as we heard about the hardships of Christians in other countries. I would encourage you to go to opendoorsca.org and learn how you can pray more intelligently for those in need.
We learned that North Korea is the most dangerous country for Christians; those living there face extreme persecution. Christian parents who tell their children about Jesus put them at risk, and endanger their own lives. The mandatory school system has ways of extracting information from children in order to discover whose parents are believers. The consequence of being found out could mean years in prison or even death. How tremendously sad!
An Iranian brother spoke to us, as well, and told a number of stories about individuals who have spent up to fifteen years in prison because of their faith. In this crucible of affliction, they experienced the nearness of God’s presence.
I would like to share with you three takeaways from the Open Doors presentation:
First, prayer is a partnership. If you sign up with Open Doors, they will give you names and situations that are current and real to pray for. While we are not in dangerous situations like our brothers and sisters in other countries, we are sharing in their sufferings as we pray on their behalf. “Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me” (Rom.15:30). This was Paul’s request to the Roman believers. By praying for our hurting brothers and sisters, we are joining with Christians down through the ages who have interceded in prayer.
Secondly, we need to share the gospel. These believers are suffering immensely for sharing the gospel. If these believers are willing to suffer for sharing the gospel, why should we not be willing to share it under easy circumstances? Our suffering would be far less than for those in Nigeria for example, who are being driven from their villages with nothing but the clothes on their backs when they trust Jesus. We need to have a heart for the lost and to seek, in whatever means are most effective, to bring Christ to perishing souls.
The third conviction may sound strange and I will need to subdivide it, but it is the blessing of persecution. It is not a theory but a reality, that the gospel flourishes under persecution. We had Mr. Robert Revie at our Missionary Conference this year and he told how he and his wife had to leave Ethiopia because of the communist government. When things changed and they were allowed to go back, what they found was amazing. Many, many souls had been saved to the glory of God.
Also, the blessing of persecution is that Christ-like character is produced. While persecution is not something we naturally desire, through it the qualities of true compassion, genuine love, complete dependence upon God, and real endurance are increased. These are attributes of Christ that we all desire, and hardship can definitely develop these and make us more like our Lord.
Lastly, I was deeply touched by the reality of worship among those going through persecution. A number of videos were shown of believers singing praise to God in secret home church meetings in different countries. The language barrier hindered many of us from understanding what was sung, but the devotion of their hearts was evident as they sang His praises. It was truly inspiring!
May some of these lessons that I learned be a source of encouragement and challenge to all of you.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel