Reading about the persecuted church isn’t the same thing as serving the persecuted church.
Last week we posted “Why Are Western Christians Silent When Their Brethren Suffer?” Several readers wrote to ask “What do we do?” Here are some ideas.
These suggestions fall into three broad categories: Awareness, Advocacy, and Action. The first step is to become aware of what is going on in the world. Educate yourself about the plight of human suffering in general and the persecuted church in particular. Second, become an advocate for the persecuted church. Speak to friends, church, and civic leaders. Represent to your circle of relationships those who cannot speak for themselves. Finally, then, take action. Get involved with your time, talent, and treasure.
Here are some ideas for each of these categories:
- Read a powerful article by secular-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World”
- Read The Cripplegate website article “Do American Christians Care about Persecuted Christians?”
- Visit websites like:
ii. World Watch List
iii. Act for America
- Do further internet research on the persecuted church.
- Keep a journal of what you are learning, including organizations you may engage with, ideas for advocacy and engagement.
- Do a thematic study of scripture on human suffering and persecution for righteousness. Begin to develop a Theology of Suffering. Most Christians today function from a theology of comfort, personal peace, and affluence. This is one of the reasons the church has not engaged with the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Develop biblical convictions, i.e. that engagement with human suffering is a higher priority than comfort, identifying with fellow Christians who suffer is more important than personal peace and affluence.
- Write articles for your church bulletin or webpage, denominational newsletters and magazines, and letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines.
- Educate your pastor and other church leaders as to the plight of Christian persecution around the world. Encourage them to preach and teach on the theme of persecution (e.g. Hebrews 11 -12, especially 11:32-39), the suffering church in history, the suffering church today.
- Develop a series of presentations on the persecuted church so that you can speak to churches, Bible studies, civic organizations, etc.
- Send Twitter announcements and Facebook notices when you become aware of the church being persecuted. If you write a blog, write periodic posts on the theme of a Theology of Suffering and the persecuted church.
- Identify Christians who are already engaged with the persecuted church. Visit their sites, especially looking for opportunities to engage. Pick one of these groups and join their work. Here are some examples:
ii. Open Doors
- Pray – ask God how he may want you to get involved. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, the “wild goose.” (In his book Wild Goose Chase, Pastor Mark Batterson reflects on the Celtic Christians’ description of following the lead of the Holy Spirit, who likened it to following a wild goose. You do not always know where the Spirit of God is leading.)
- Prayerfully consider becoming a cross-cultural worker in a country where the church is persecuted. Identify mission organizations and development organizations that specialize in work in countries where Christians are persecuted. Join them or support them.
- Form a study-activist group to engage your friends in the study of the persecuted church and identify ways that you may corporately engage in advocacy and activism.
- If you live in the USA, write your senator and/or congressman twice a year and urge them to look for opportunities to shape our foreign policy in a way that speaks out for Christians who are being attacked by radical fundamentalists. Urge them to prevail on foreign governments to take actions to stem such violence and promote justice for all. To write your congressman, go to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/, enter your zip code, and use the form provided. It takes five minutes.
- Write the CEO and board chair of the oil companies (about seven) that buy oil from the Middle East. Ask them to stop doing business in countries where persecution of Christians is supported or tolerated. Some 25% of U.S. oil is imported from the Middle East from these seven companies. Yes, these are huge public companies with tens of thousands of stockholders but yours might be the email that reaches and influences a gatekeeper. Here’s a PDF with information for contacting oil company leadership.
- Pray. When you hear of a situation, pray for the victims, for the pastor and church leaders, for the local government and security forces, and for the perpetrators. God will lead your thoughts in this.
- Give. When you hear about a bombing or attack, consider sending a gift to help the victims or to support the rebuilding of the church. To find a reliable avenue for giving, start with the church or mission organizations you know are active in that country. Ask them for guidance. Some wire transfer companies like Western Union enable you to easily send a cash wire transfer internationally at no or little fee in a very convenient manner. If you respond by giving, due care is called for, but it can be done. Don’t assume you should not help.
If you are stirred by the plight of the persecuted church, these are ways to begin. Pick one thing you can do today and get started.
– Dwight Vogt and Darrow Miller