Praying for the Persecuted

Our headlines are filled with persecution of Christians. From ISIS to bombings of churches, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed. According to Open Doors, an organization that works with the persecuted church, each month: 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches or Christian properties are destroyed and 722 forms of violence are committed against Christians including rape, beating, abductions and arrests. Pakistan is number six out of 50 on the world watch list of countries that persecute Christians. Risen recently interviewed Ali Husnain, who shared his story in the book, The Cost: My Life on a Terrorist Hit List. Husnain was born into a prominent Shia Muslim family in Pakistan. He later became a Christian and not only faced persecution from his friends and community, but would eventually have to leave Pakistan to stay alive. Our interview with Husnain gave us hope for people from all different faith backgrounds coming to Christ and how we can share our faith with Muslims.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Husnain shared with us how he became a Christian when he visited his aunt.

I grew up in Pakistan in a Muslim family and came to the UK to see my aunt. That’s when I found out she was a Christian. That was a big shock to me. I became very angry with her and wanted her to go back to Islam. I started praying for her and asking questions. One day I decided to go to church with her and try and find out some answers. When I went to church and saw the people worshiping, it was different. There wasn’t any fear. I started asking questions to this guy sitting next to me, “Why are you so happy?” He shared about the forgiveness of sin. Then I asked, “How do you know that you are forgiven?” He shared, “Because Jesus Christ gave his life for my sin.” From there I started to become more interested in Christ. I started to pray more and more. I asked God, “Show yourself to me. Who is the true God? Reveal it to me.” From there, I went to another church where the pastor said, “If you want to see Jesus Christ, come forward.” And I really felt that was for me and I went forward. I told the pastor, “I want to see Jesus Christ.” I prayed and then I don’t know what happened, a strange feeling came over me. I fell on the floor and a bright light came over me. When I fell down, I saw someone standing there. He said, “I am Jesus Christ. You wanted to see me. I am here. If you believe in me, I will give you eternal life. I forgive your sin.” When I woke up, I was crying. I thought I was going to die because as a Muslim I had always believed that the day that you saw God was the last day of your life. I didn’t share this experience with anyone. I came back to my aunt’s house and went into the bedroom. I had a dream from Jesus Christ. I heard his voice, “Don’t be afraid. I will be with you. I will protect you.” I woke up and went to my aunt’s room. I told her about the dream and what happened. I asked my aunt what I should do. She said, “You were praying for this. God came and revealed himself to you. Now it is your choice.” Because she knew that I was going back to Pakistan. That’s when I decided I am not a Christian but I will follow Jesus Christ.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

We asked Husnain what is the best way for Christians to share their faith with Muslims.

The way I do evangelism is that it is hard to get a Muslim to read a Bible, but if we can be the Bible to them. I try to show the Bible through my actions. I show them I love them. I share Bible stories with them and stories about my life and how Jesus has changed my life. I offer to pray for them. My aunt prayed for me for 17 years and was very patient. Being patient and offering support especially because of what is happening with the Muslim community. People are saying things to them and threatening them.  That is the best way Christians can share Christ’s love with them.

Even if you do not live in a country where Christians are persecuted on a daily basis, it is important for us to remember that those are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It gives us perspective to remember that while we enjoy the comforts of a safe country, others are dying daily for the Christian faith. Hopefully, it will motivate us to be more proactive to share our faith, pray for the persecuted church, and support missionaries in persecuted countries.

Risen Reflections

Pray for the persecuted Christians around the world. Pray that the Holy Spirit would protect them. Pray that the Gospel would continue to be spread in these countries despite the dangers. For specific ways to pray for each country check out Open Doors or Voice of the Martyrs.

Pray for those around you. God wants to use you to reach out to those around you. Whether it is a Muslim co-worker, Atheist classmate or Buddhist neighbor, everyone is on a spiritual journey. Ask the Holy Spirit for the words to share and questions to ask. Sometimes, we just need to listen. Check out stories of people becoming a Christian from that religion for encouragement and ways to overcome cultural differences.

Take a step of faith! Is God calling you to serve in a persecuted country? Find a missionary organization or church to go on a mission trip with.

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