Tag Archives: persecution

Pray for Persecuted Christians

India-ChurchAround the world, in many ways, the gospel of Jesus Christ is under assault. With recent headlines, we tend to equate this with Islamic attacks upon Christians in the Middle East and Africa, but the enemy wars against Jesus Christ everywhere and in many ways. This includes India.

Open Doors International reports that the Word Watch List of persecuted Christians, based upon the number of attacks between November 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014, places India at #8 of the top 10 nations undergoing the heaviest persecution of Christians. That list was made up before the accession of a BJP majority in India’s parliamentary election of May 2014.

Since that election, the number of incidents involving persecution of Christians has increased at least 55% under the fascistic BJP government of Narendra Modi. The goal of the BJP and its af liates is to unite India under a Hindu religion and culture. They encourage violence against Christians, and many misguided people comply. Persecution takes place in every state of India.

Persecution comes in many forms. BJP-controlled governments enforce anti-conversion laws. Mobs raid churches, beating and killing church members, burning Bibles, raping women, erecting Hindu idols. Some villages forbid Christians from earning a living and using village wells. Policemen arrest Christians on false charges. Spies enter churches to monitor Christian activities. Christian children are seized and indoctrinated into Hinduism.

All of this comes just as the Spirit of God continues to enlarge the scope of the gospel in India through IGO and other like-minded ministries. In the past year, IGO has made great strides in Odisha, Darjeeling and Mizoram in addition to our main training center at India Bible College and Seminary. God gives us new opportunities to enlarge our witness through ministries that uplift those in poverty—schools in the slums, sewing ministries to women, and others.

God continues to enlarge His harvest force in all these places, and to give us new means to communicate the gospel to greater numbers of people. But we must always engage in spiritual battle with an enemy who will not give up though one day he must lose.

At the heart of opposition to the gospel is a spiritual enemy who darkens sinful hearts with lies. Paul, who experienced persecution many times, warns us that we struggle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” As we engage the enemy on our knees in prayer, we will gain the victory even as the early church gained the victory.

Pray for our brothers and sisters in India’s persecuted church. Let us “remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3). Let us also pray that God continues to bring opportunities our way in the midst of trials and opens the door for an unprecedented Great Awakening.

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Purpose in Persecution

Purpose-in-PersecutionBenjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”

For the Christian, we can add one more item: persecution.

In recent days, we have read and heard much about persecuted Christians around the world. In the Middle East, we hear about attacks by ISIS and Christians driven from their homes because of their faith. Even young children experience beatings, beheading and crucifixion because they refuse to give up their faith in Jesus.

This is not new in the history of Christ’s church. Persecution is inevitable for all who truly follow Christ and reflect His life and character. As Jesus faced His own crucifixion and death, He told His disciples, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:21).

A truly godly person may even find himself rejected by religious people who call themselves “Christian.” They may be moral and upstanding citizens who have compromised with the standards of the world in some way. These are people who rely upon their own goodness to gain entry into heaven. Such people do not understand those who trust only the grace of God to save them.

When Jesus walked this earth, the religious people of the day were the Pharisees. John tells us that “even among the rulers, many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-44).

Persecution for Christians means to have a share in Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. Jesus suffered, died and rose again, bringing life to all who trust in Him. Our suffering echoes His. Christian suffering is not in vain. God uses persecution to bear much fruit for His kingdom. The gates of hell come against the believer, but in the end, cannot prevail.

Persecution often results in divided families. Some will follow Christ, others will not. Those who do not follow Christ will hate those who do. Families will disown, betray and even kill members who trust in Jesus.

Persecution does not mean shame and humiliation. Jesus tells us that those who experience persecution will receive words and wisdom from the Holy Spirit which will baffle their enemies (Luke 21:15).

How should the Christian respond to persecution? Jesus tells us we must love our persecutors, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us and pray for those who treat us with spite (Matthew 5:44). This makes us like God who shows His love to all, even those who hate Him. To follow the path of love and forgiveness has brought many others to Christ.

A good example of this is Elizabeth Elliot whose husband, Jim, died at the hands of savage Auca Indians to whom he tried to present the gospel. Instead of going home in defeat, Elizabeth Elliot and her young daughter went to the savages themselves, and today, most of these people have committed their lives to Jesus Christ.

We must choose now to suffer momentary affliction for the sake of eternal reward, trusting God who judges all people justly (1 Peter 2:24). We must keep in mind that God has later turned persecutors into messengers of the gospel. Paul, the greatest missionary of all, is witness to what God will do.

Not even persecution can stop the gospel from reaching all the peoples of the world, but God will use it to accomplish His holy purposes.

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Weighty Prayers

True-PrayerWe must all learn to pray more “weighty” prayers.

The great 19th century preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, once said, “True prayer is measured [by God] by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.”

How do we pray more “weighty” prayers? In humility. In faith. In accordance with God’s will. Focused upon others. In boldness. In the name of Jesus.

This is a critical time for your “weighty” prayers on behalf of India Gospel Outreach.

Over the years, our praying friends have opened many new doors of ministry in many new places. We are grateful to each of you who have been a part of this critical prayer support. So also are the countless men, women and children who have been blessed through your faithful and “weighty” prayers.

Again, this is another opportunity for you to help enlarge the influence of the gospel in India, especially through this ministry and to potentially change the eternal destinies of millions.

In addition to the daily prayer requests that follow, I request that you pray daily this month for a very special need:

In the past year, enemies of the gospel were elected to the highest offices of Indian government during the most recent national election. Their stated aim is to make India a nation for Hindus only. Since that election, persecution of Christians has increased in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka.

They are even attempting to bribe Christians to become Hindus. In Uttar Pradesh, they planned a mass conversion of 4,000 Christian families to Hinduism for Christmas Day. Praise God, through the prayers of many of you, so much infighting and confusion took place among the leadership, the event never took place!

But they have not given up, and neither must we. We must continue to pray “weighty” prayers until all things are subjected to Him.

Therefore, I would greatly appreciate your daily prayers for the Christians in Uttar Pradesh where much persecution is taking place. With more than 210 million people in this large state with 1,325 people/square mile, 742 urban centers, 307,452 villages, there are only about 200,000 Christians, many of them only nominal believers.

IGO has sent a number of trained church planters to this state and is planning strategic things in this large state, so influential for the rest of India. Please pray daily that God will raise up and prosper these schools to train many evangelists who will plant churches in every zip code and reach every ethnic group in Uttar Pradesh with the Good News.

Pray for a mighty awakening to the gospel, not only in Uttar Pradesh but throughout India. Pray that God will give IGO many opportunities and resources to take the Good News to many new places.

Thank you for your bold, faithful—and essential—“weighty” prayers.

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