Sermon this morning will highlight the reality that persecution for Christian witness is a key theme in the New Testament and a real experience for so many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Nik Ripken remind us, “Don’t you ever believe there is a free church and a suffering church. There is just the church.” So, while we may live in a nation with religious liberty (listen to last week’s sermon to hear the importance of that) and therefore not really under the threat of intense persecution, we need to be reminded that this is not the plight of our Christian family around the world. This is a list of resources designed to educate us about the realities of Christian suffering and persecution around the world so that we can stand with these people and lift them in prayer.
The first thing I will do here is push families to a blog post from the Gospel Coalition with some terrific resources for kids and families. Take some time to check these out.
The Voice of the Martyrs – VOM is is a nonprofit, interdenominational missions organization that serves persecuted Christians around the world. Their website contains a myriad of stories and resources about the persecuted church around the world. They also have a magazine giving regular updates on persecution around the world and sharing stories of our brothers and sisters who are suffering yet standing firm.
Open Doors – Our purpose is to strengthen and equip Christians around the world who are facing persecution and discrimination because of their faith in Jesus Christ and to encourage their involvement in world evangelism. This too is a significant ministry with lots of resources and pathways for prayer and partnership.
Operation World – A website (with a companion book) dedicated to prayer for the nations. While this site is not specifically about persecution, it does highlight the struggles for Gospel advance in each nation and region around the globe.
World Watch List – Part of Open Doors, find the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians on a world map, learn the dangers and discover how to pray.
icommittopray – From VOM, A place to gather and pray for the persecuted church. Read prayer requests from around the world and post your own prayers specifically for your brothers and sisters who are being persecuted. Along with its online presence, you can subscribe to email list and each Friday they will send three stories with prayer requests for persecuted believers around the world.
VOM Global Prayer Guide – Interactive online map and prayer guide sharing about the various nations and their history, the core religious beliefs in the country, and the plight of believers in countries around the world, and sharing how we can pray and support them.
VOM Prayer Guide and Journal – Two printed resources to use in personal or family devotions.
The Insanity of God – This is a fabulous book, so worth the read.
The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, “Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn’t work in Somalia. The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.
There is also a movie based on this book available in DVD format. See the preview below.
Jesus Freaks – 1999 book by Voice of the Martyrs and the Christian band DC Talk. Its a wake-up call to prayer and to lives of unashamed faith, offering stories of martyrs past and present. The book was written especially for teenagers.
Foxes Book of Martyrs – Originally penned in 1563, this book tells the story of the Christian martyrs in the first 1500 years of Christian history.