Summary: Message for the International Day for the Persecuted Church. This was delivered a week after the actual Day of Prayer, since I was out of town on November 14.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind?
November 21, 2010
Me: This is probably going to be a shorter message today, because I want us to spend a bit of time actually praying today.
Last week was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
I delayed our participation in it until today because I wanted to be here to talk a bit and join you in praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.
We: I wanted us to join together as we have the last few years to remember once again those who don’t have the freedoms we take for granted.
We take for granted that we can come to church on any given Sunday, and so often times we just don’t think it’s important enough to do – so we sleep in, go hunting, watch the ball game, or whatever.
I know, because I’ve been there. Believe me, there are times when I’d like nothing better than to stay home and sleep on a Sunday.
And yet around the world, people will walk for days because they get to have church once a month.
For others, going to church may cost them their lives.
But they do it anyway.
And we get upset if our service goes beyond 12:00 or if we didn’t sing something a certain way.
God forgive us for our pettiness.
We become so embroiled in our comfortable church setting that we forget those who don’t have it as good as we do.
And I’m as guilty as anybody here.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” That describes so many of us here in the US, and I know it describes many of us here in this church.
And it’s got to stop.
My hope is that today will be a turning point in the life of this church as we seek to be more intentional about remembering those who are facing persecution, and a turning point in the lives of individuals who from this day on will commit to praying for our brothers and sisters in chains and facing torture and death for the sake of Jesus.
God: Our passage for today is just one verse, Hebrews 13:3 –
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Roughly 100 million Christians facing persecution today – they are not free to believe.
Between mid-2008 and mid-2009, approximately 176,000 people were killed because they were identified as Christians. That averages out to be just over 480 per day.
And of course, this doesn’t take into account those are killed and never known about.
Persecution of Christians is getting more attention world-wide, but there seems to be little pressure on certain populations to stop the persecution, particularly in Muslim countries that are run by Muslim Sharia law rather than by laws under a constitution like ours in the US.
We can’t just turn a blind eye to this. It’s sin to do that.
We can’t do the “out of sight, out of mind” thing anymore. We have to be intentional about praying for those under persecution.
We remember those in prison and persecution when we…
1. Give thanks that we live in a land of such freedoms.
2. Pray for the persecuted.
3. Pray for the persecutors.
4. Take advantage of the opportunities we have here.
I mean specifically the opportunities we have to worship and spread the good news of Jesus unimpeded.
Here is a clip from Open Doors USA, a group working with and for persecuted Christians around the world.
You: Keep them in sight and in mind.
Put up the prayer card where you can see it daily.
In your Bible (you are reading regularly, right?)
On the fridge, bathroom mirror, etc.
Get regular updates regarding persecution and persecuted Christians.
Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors USA
Pray when you get the updates.
This is one of the issues with my own application of this.
I get weekly updates from Voice of the Martyr, and I need to get better at stopping what I’m doing and RIGHT THEN pray about the needs presented.
It takes about 5-10 minutes and it really displays the disparity in priorities that we in non-persecuted areas show.
I am guilty of pushing these things aside. Don’t allow yourself to do the same thing.
Support ministries involved in helping persecuted believers around the world.
Financially, in prayers, or in action steps – contacting agencies and governments that have influence over particular situations.
$30 Critical care packs – medicine, food, clothing, personal items, and a Bible.
Updates on the bulletin board with our missionaries and World Hope children.
We: We are going to pray this morning.
Not singing closing chorus.