It doesn’t take long when reading the Bible to see that God is impassioned for the plight of His people, such as this passage in Exodus:
“Then the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them….'” (Exodus 3:7-8).
In the face of an ever-increasing worldwide persecution of Christians, we would be wise to cultivate practices in our churches that might more readily reflect this notion of God’s nature. I would like to note three ways you can implement this in the life of your church that will, eventually, lead to three rewards.
1. Apply biblical truth locally by using what is happening globally.
Every pastor labors to try and faithfully apply the truths of the Bible in a way that will assault his people and spur them on toward faithfulness. They do that by considering their own context and using aspects of it to illustrate or apply that particular truth.
However, considering a different context will help your congregation identify with the plight of God’s people around the world. For example, when preaching or teaching through 1 Peter, don’t limit the illustrations and applications of persecution only to homosexuality or other American problems. Take them to the checkpoint just outside of Mosul where they are walking with their family and will have to answer for their faith in Christ. Bring them into the homes of those who just received word of the mock crucifixions of converted Christians in Syria.
Occasionally sprinkling in ideas like these will serve to strengthen faithfulness in our more immediate contexts.
2. Pray frequently, specifically and experientially.
If we pray for the plight of God’s people in our public services, it is often done in short order or in a sort of peripheral way that does not resonate with the actual circumstances of the world. Don’t just pray for the persecuted church when it is on the calendar; pray for them often so as to engrain it into the minds and hearts of the people.
Praying continually will help your church understand that persecution is going on continually and will model the realities of our brothers and sisters in other countries. And when you do pray, pray for specific people in specific places. This will serve to put a face on otherwise formless peoples.
Also, genuinely pray in the mood of the situation. If I asked you to breathe life into the lungs of a victim the same way I asked you to pick up some milk at the store, we would rightly think something has gone awry in my soul. Likewise, consider the situation and pray in a manner that reflects it.
3. Be meaningfully involved in the nations.
Appropriating 10 percent of your monies toward international missions is a good thing but it is not sufficient to build a fervency among your congregation for the people of God around the world. As a church, we have adopted a couple of communities around the world, and we have people who travel and work in others.
By sending people and resources to Christians in various communities, we make the people at our church more familiar with situations that might have just been another story on the evening news.
As you apply these practices to the particular church you pastor, you’ll probably begin to notice the culture of your congregation changing. Here’s what I believe you’ll joyfully reap.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press