On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and accepted the final draft of an important document, the Declaration of Independence, which declares that ALL men are created equal and have basic rights given by God. The purpose of having a governmental institution is to protect those basic rights, which Thomas Jefferson defined as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Many Americans will celebrate this historical day by gathering for cookouts, going to watch fireworks and/or proudly displaying the American flag at their homes.
As Christians and American citizens, we are privileged and blessed to live in freedom. Some freedoms we enjoy include living out our faith through worship, reading the Bible, and prayer; voting; pursuing happiness and speaking our minds. But sometimes we forget that these freedoms are a gift we should not take for granted. In the future, there may come a day when our freedoms are taken from us.
Therefore, we should be mindful that there are millions of people around the world who are denied the same freedoms we have simply because they are Christians—people referred to as the persecuted Church.
According to Open Doors USA, Christian persecution, defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ, is an ongoing issue for our brothers and sisters. Some examples of persecution in the world include forced conversions, confiscation or destruction of property, denial of legal rights, arrest, imprisonment, job discrimination, educational discrimination, bodily harm and/or death. Christian women are considered most at risk due to their gender and faith.
We are not two separate churches or two separate bodies of believers—there is only one according to Scripture. Those of us in the West are one body with those in parts of the world being persecuted.
The lives of our brother and sisters demonstrate that even when things appear out of their control, there is a knowing God who is in charge. And He will provide whatever is necessary to sustain them through their hardships, whether it is grace, courage, peace, strength, joy or even rest. May we in the Western world remember that we are one Body in Christ Jesus and we need one another.
When those who suffer for Christ have the ability to see through spiritual eyes, God shows them that demonic forces are behind the persecution. And He gives them understanding that it is unnecessary to respond in the same manner. The battles they face are not against flesh and blood; rather, it is a spiritual war we as one Body can fight together. (Ephesians 6:12)
Although the persecuted Church around the world is being assaulted and in chains in the physical realm, we need to remember that in the spirit, they are not. They are free! Our brothers and sisters have been delivered from this evil world and are seated in the heavenlies with the Lord. Spiritual freedom was bought by the blood of Jesus 2,000 years ago when He made a public spectacle of defeating the enemy on the cross.
So this Independence Day, let’s remember to pray for the persecuted Church. Here are some ways you can pray this week.
1. Pray that they will experience God’s presence and peace.
2. Pray that they will remain joyful in the midst of their suffering.
3. Pray that they remain grounded in God’s Word and grow in their faith.
4. Pray that they have opportunities to share the Gospel with God-given boldness and courage.
5. Pray that their activities are hidden from authorities or others who may want to harm them.
6. Pray that the Holy Spirit enables them to forgive and love their persecutors.
7. Pray that the Lord would work in the hearts of those who are persecuting the Church, bringing them to the saving knowledge of Jesus.
Thank you for sowing into the persecuted Church and standing with our brothers and sisters worldwide.