In this current situation, consider the persecuted church

April 17, 2020

Covid-19 has contaminated hundreds of thousands of people with infections increasing dramatically daily. Some have projected the total number of those affected worldwide will be in the tens of millions with fatalities anticipated to be over 1 million people. Sports have been canceled, jobs have been lost, schools have been closed. Terms like “social distancing,” “isolation” and “quarantine” have become common vocabulary. Churches have been shut down for weeks, many without a date for reopening.

The current circumstances, though alarming, could present opportunities for churches to deepen their understanding of what the persecuted church faces daily. Christians in the U.S. are some of the most innovative and generous people in the world. They have given billions of dollars and countless hours to witness to those where Christ is least known.

But from a firsthand perspective, most cannot relate to people who have been harassed for their faith in an environment where Christianity is constrained. Christians in restricted access countries constantly are watched because of their faith. Often their phones are tapped, their conversations are recorded, and their workplaces and friendships are monitored. When gathering together for worship, they have to be careful.

They cannot meet in traditional church buildings and changing venues regularly is normal. Sometimes they gather in houses, sometimes in parks, sometimes in stores. They congregate in small numbers, no more than 10 to 15 people. Not long ago, a pastor was kidnapped. When the pastor’s wife asked officials where he was, after over a month of looking for him, an official replied, “We executed him two weeks ago. … Tell your Jesus to come and make him alive.”

While Covid-19 has not threatened Christians with jailtime or torture, those who are used to worshiping in complete freedom have been given a small taste of reality for persecuted Christians. Unable to gather as they are used to, believers are getting a glimpse of what daily life is like for Christians in countries that do not allow such freedoms. Hearing a believer in a restricted access country say, “You are the first Christian I have seen in two years,” may not be so unfathomable now and may have deeper meaning than it did before the virus broke out.

This coronavirus will be contained, its stresses will be relieved, and life will get back to normal – though a new normal. For the persecuted church, however, the pressures will remain. Christians in restricted access countries will still be threatened. They will continue to suffer and die for their faith. Each time they gather, they will be at risk.

You can use this time to focus your kindness and your prayers toward those who face hardship and persecution constantly. Your temporarily restricted freedoms can serve as a reminder to deepen your commitment to reaching the world with the gospel.

Here are some examples of powerful ways to stay connected to the persecuted church right now:

  1. Prayer. Commit to pray daily. Pray for Christians who cannot meet regularly and do not enjoy the same freedoms that you do.
  2. Bibles. Getting them to persecuted Christians is paramount. Losing corporate, physical worship is one thing. What if you or your church had no Bibles?
  3. Support. Many churches have experienced just a little bit of what missionaries to persecuted peoples constantly face. This should help in the way the church supports missionaries before, during and after their time on the field.
  4. Gratefulness. Counting blessings takes on a different worth. Including the blessing of suffering when expressing thanks to God.
  5. Surrender. Consider the cost. Become a missionary. Encourage your children to become missionaries. Take work overseas. The persecuted church needs all types of missionaries, vocational and non-vocational.

Things are not the way they are supposed to be. Life is hard. Christ is precious. As Romans 8:18 states, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the future glory that will be revealed in us.

EDITOR’S NOTE: *Name changed for security. Benjamin Breeg is a Christian worker in Central Asia. The original article was published by the International Mission Board.


by Benjamin Breeg*

3 training options to offer worship ministry certification

Worship leaders can now pursue further equipping through three training options offered in partnership between N.C. Baptists, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Fruitland Baptist Bible College. The training provides worship leaders with the understanding and tools to...

Caraway celebrates 60 years of ministry and memories

North Carolina Baptists joined forces in July 1962 to cultivate a powerful new tool to help churches reach and disciple more people — Camp Caraway. Now, decades later, the camp continues to serve N.C. Baptists and will celebrate its 60th summer this July. Situated on more than...

How leaders can bridge generational gaps in Asian American churches

Many Asian American churches provide spaces for Asian immigrants to continue worshiping similarly to how they did in their home countries. They offer a familiar community and a home away from home. What can often be overlooked, however, is the cultural gap between immigrant...

On death and dying, as it relates to churches

In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, wrote the classic book On Death and Dying. This work, chronicling lessons she learned with terminally ill patients, outlined the five stages that all people go through as they near death. Beginning when they are...

4 symptoms to watch for when assessing pastoral health

In preparation for this article I confess I did Google, “How to know if a pastor is healthy?” The number of articles, blogs and sites addressing the increasing issue of pastoral health did not disappoint. After all, we are hopefully coming out of the most difficult time of...

Fisher retires after 36 years at Caldwell Association

Dale Fisher received quite the surprise on his 70th birthday. Not only did ministry colleagues serenade him with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” during the N.C. Associational Missions Conference in early April, they also recognized Fisher for his long tenure of service in leading...

The power of a name: God’s faithfulness in mental health

If I have learned one lesson this year, it’s that there is power in a name. When we give our struggle a name, we are able to better distinguish truth from lie and work toward healing. Naming opens the door to freedom and sheds light on truth that can feel uncomfortable, exposing...

Scholarship to cover tuition for new Fruitland students

New students now have an opportunity to attend Fruitland Baptist Bible College tuition-free this fall. Fruitland recently announced a new scholarship that will cover tuition costs for new, full-time students attending the Hendersonville campus during the fall 2022 quarter. The...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!