*Posted by Winston Hottman
In recent months, attention has been drawn to the plight of persecuted Christians in North Korea. According to one estimate, 70,000 of the 200,000 prisoners in North Korea are Christians, and stories of imprisonment, torture, and death continue to emerge from the country which is one of the most hostile to religious freedom in the world. And, of course, North Korea is not unique. Throughout the world, millions of Christians currently face persecution or the threat of persecution for following Christ.
Despite knowing this, however, it is easy for Christians like me, who enjoy religious freedom, to feel detached from the situation. Or if not detached, we are often perplexed as to what we should do. Indeed, in light of the hectic busyness of our lives and ministries, not to mention the thousands of miles that separate us from our brothers and sisters in places like North Korea, what can we do?
While the following list is far from exhaustive, I would like to suggest several things that we can do on behalf of persecuted Christians. While some of us may have the opportunity to travel overseas or devote ourselves exclusively to serving the persecuted, the following things can be easily accommodated to the busyness of our lives wherever we are.
- Pray – It’s easy to look at prayer as a last resort when it really should be our default method of operation. Think about it. If we serve a loving and sovereign God, and if we have been united by His Holy Spirit to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world, and if God has promised to hear and work through the prayers of His people, what greater service could we render persecuted Christians then to share their burdens in prayer before the throne of God?
- Give – We can sacrifice of our own resources to help provide the resources needed by our persecuted brethren. There are various organizations devoted to serving the persecuted church throughout the world, and they are in constant need of funds and supplies (for example, Open Doors or Voice of the Martyrs) . Like the churches of the first century who gave to Paul’s collection for the church at Jerusalem, we can testify to the grace of Christ in our midst by our care for His body.
- Learn – One of the best ways to honor the sacrifice of persecuted Christians is to learn from their example. A friend recently visited with several pastors of underground churches in a foreign country. At one point in a conversation he mentioned to a particular pastor that it must be much more difficult to follow Christ under persecution than to be a Christian in a country with religious freedom, like the US. Without hesitating, the pastor disagreed, explaining that the materialism of a culture like American society presents a much greater challenge to following Christ because it threatens to lull the church into complacency and worldliness. Persecution leaves less room for either of these. The faithfulness of persecuted believers challenges and encourages us to walk faithfully in our own contexts, reminding us that we are called to follow Christ by taking up a cross.
- Tell – With the advent of the information age, the world has become a much smaller place. And news has the potential to reach larger audiences more than ever before. Use whatever means are at your disposal to tell others about the plight of persecuted believers. Contact government officials, share with your churches, blog about it, tweet, post, +1, or do whatever it is you do to get the information out there. In a society where the mainstream press is all too ready to ignore stories that don’t fit their social agendas (see Kermit Gosnell trial), we have the potential to garner attention for persecuted believers through social media, though this should always be done in a spirit of humility and congeniality.