How Do You Obey Hebrews 13:3?


Christian persecution Mosul IraqSome years ago, I had a conversation with T. W. Hunt, a well-known prayer warrior. He had come to lead a conference on prayer at our church. At the time, I was a volunteer representative for Voice of the Martyrs. When he realized my concern for the persecuted church, his eyes lit up, and he enthusiastically retorted, “I pray for the persecuted church every day.”

As we spoke further, he revealed his method for remembering to pray for the persecuted church (as we are called by Hebrews 13:3 to remember the persecuted and ill-treated because we, too, are in the body). His method was simple. Each month, he received the VOM Newsletter. Upon receiving it, he would start at the front cover and work his way to the back, praying for each person’s name mentioned in that newsletter. He would make sure that he prayed for every person mentioned in the newsletter every month.

Though I never adopted his method for remembering on a consistent basis, I did realize that we must take extraordinary steps to obey Hebrews 13:3.  It is not a natural command for us to fulfill. We do not naturally identify with the persecuted church; thus we must be commanded to remind ourselves not to forget about our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ. I have set up these reminders in many different ways over the years.

For instance, I once wore a “Pray for Sudan” arm band. I also wore a “Bound with Them” bracelet to keep prisoners on my mind. One of the most effective ways I found was to make myself as familiar with Christians in prison as I was with Greek vocabulary—so I literally made flashcards of Christians in prison and kept them on a little ring which I could carry with me and flip through, praying as I went through the names on the flashcards.

Today, I am keeping things a little simpler still. My prayers are focused on Asia Bibi because her life is, literally, in the Asia Bibi Persecution Pakistan Praybalance. In 3 weeks, a judge will decide if this wife and mother of five will live or die. She is under the sentence of death in Pakistan on account of her faith in Jesus Christ. I have changed all my social profile pics to a prayer reminder until after October 16th so that I do not fail to remember this sister in prison in her time of great need.

I’m sure there are many other ways to remind ourselves to obey Hebrews 13:3. Please feel free to share how you remember to remember the persecuted (and thus obey Hebrews 13:3). Talk about it with your friends and ask them to share. The more we hear ideas from one another, the more likely we are to “stir one another up to love and good works” like remembering those who are ill-treated on account of their faith in Christ.

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body (Hebrews 13:3, NASB).

Christianity Is Not Safe


 

Just this week, Christians—including women and children—have been killed in Nigeria on account of Christ.  In all, more than 600 Christians have been killed this year.  Perhaps nowhere on earth is more dangerous for Christians right now than northern Nigeria. Christianity is not safe in Nigeria

Emboldened by a Muslim plurality in the north, Boko Haram—a Muslim terrorist group—is waging war against Nigeria Map Persecution ChristiansChristians, hoping to force Christians to flee their home, thereby separating Nigeria into a Northern Nigeria and a Southern Nigeria (such as happened recently with Sudan).  Will Nigeria remain a unified country? Not if Muslim terrorists have their way.

Recently, I spoke with a missionary friend who conducted pastor training in Nigeria this year. The story he told was horrific. He was not prepared for what he saw.

At the worship service he attended, my missionary friend was surprised by a video that the Nigerian pastor played for his congregation. It was a video of a fellow Nigerian pastor being beheaded. It showed every gruesome step of the process of Muslim terrorists cutting off this brother’s head and his hands, placing them on his back, then carrying him off as refuse.

My friend was not prepared for the hideous scene. The Nigerian pastor leading the worship service felt it was important to be sober-minded about the cost of Christian discipleship. He wanted his congregation to remain aware of the danger of being called by the name of Christ.

I’m not sure I would show a video like that to my congregation, but I am not sure it is wrong to do so either. What I do know (though not as well as my Nigerian brothers) is that Christ taught from the beginning that some would want to kill Christians just as they ended up killing our Lord Himself. Christ’s promises are often as sobering as the Muslim snuff film. Take Luke 21:16-19, for example:

But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17and you will be hated by all because of My name. 18“Yet not a hair of your head will perish.19“By your endurance you will gain your lives.

The gospel now—as from the beginning—is a matter of life and death for Christians in Nigeria. Let us all be as Peter commanded us, sober-minded.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13, NASB).

 

Some Relief for Sudanese Christians?


Sudan has been a nation at war for years.  The Muslims of the north have waged an all out war against the non-Muslims of the south, who are mostly Christians and animists.  As of today, South Sudan is a country of its own.  Let’s hope this move brings peace.  Indeed, let’s pray for peace.  The track record in Sudan has not lately been laced with peace.

For now, congratulations, South Sudan.  You are the world’s newest nation.