Summary: A Message for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
“OBEDIENT TO DEATH”
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
NOVEMBER 13, 2005
Intro: Today we are going to spend some time remembering the fact that across the world millions of Christians live in fear of arrest, torture and even death for following Christ. I want to show you a picture of how Christians in other parts of the world live and how we as their brothers and sisters in Christ should respond to their needs.
Let me share with you some stories of our persecuted family.
Columbia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Abductions and violent crimes are common. Alex, a Christian young man knew this but there was nothing he could do to change it.
One day, while riding in a bus with his youth group to share the gospel, they were stopped by paramilitary soldiers. The teens complied with the soldier’s orders to exit the bus. Once they were forced to the ground and their hands and feet were tied up, the soldiers began shooting. All of the students appeared dead. Alex, severely wounded at the bottom of the pile cried out to the soldiers, “Jesus loves you.”
The soldiers were enraged. They ran to the pile where only Alex’s head was exposed. They tried to cut off his head with their machetes, but fled when they could not.
Alex’s life was spared and he now ministers to the same group of people who tried to kill him. He lost the sight in one eye and is legally blind in the other. When asked why he isn’t afraid, Alex responds, “What else can they do to me?” (Source, Open Doors Ministry)
In China, Pastor Liu Ding has been to prison so many times for following Christ that he cannot remember how many. Each time as he has been released he has been labeled “Non-repentant.”
“I endured much hardship when I was in prison. Right at the beginning, my ears were beaten with an electric baton and fluid kept flowing from my ears for six months. Another time my leg was beaten, and its swelling became large. My fellow prisoners had me clean the toilets and to do the job I had to have the injured leg kneel on ice cold concrete ground and with the other leg stand up. Upon cleaning the toilet, there came a man who put dirty water in it and made me do it again. They did this to torture me.”
I experienced too much of these, but I have learned to confess the most precious thing I have ever learned is the Lord suffered more than we did. My family has not fallen away in the midst of our suffering. Rather, we become bolder following the Lord. Now my children are in the ministry and they inherit our wonderful examples following Him to the end.” (Voice of the Martyrs)
These are two of countless stories that could be told of Christian’s living in the face of very real and very harsh persecution. Today we want to look at what it is that drives someone to live this kind of life and how we can learn from them and apply some of these lessons into our lives.
I. The Reason for Chains
The reason that Christians live in persecution is that they have chosen to be obedient to Christ.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)
Jesus has called all of us to follow him with our own cross. The cross was not a piece of jewelry or a decoration. To a first century Jew, the cross was an instrument of death and pain. So when Jesus calls us to that life, he calls us to a life of suffering.
Jesus told his followers that they would be hated for following him.
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13 (NIV)
The reason Christians live in persecution is that they take seriously the call to follow Christ.
“I would like to tell those who would hear my testimony: Drink the cup that Jesus drinks, for a student is not above his teacher. Our light troubles are temporary, beatings are temporary, pain is also temporary, but eternity and joy are everlasting.” Pastor Liu Ding
The greatest picture of obedience is Christ.
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:8 (NIV)
II. The Challenge
As Christians in America, we are really not personally touched by these types of events. It is easy for us to remain unconcerned and unmoved. But scripture has a special call for us who live without persecution.