This coming Sunday November 11 is a day set aside for believers to enter into prayer on behalf of the persecuted church across the world.
Through my study of Acts I have lingered over the moments of persecution that Paul endured for the sake of the faith. As I consider what happened to him, I remember it is still happening for many believers around the globe.
The following link contains a devotional based on 2 Kings 19 that provides a thoughtful way to think and pray for our brothers and sisters.
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it.
We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray.
We also encourage continuing prayer and educated involvement on behalf of persecuted Christians. Visit our partner Web sites to discover further ways to get involved. (IDOP)
The devotional ends with this prayer:
We also pray for the terrorists, militants and dictators themselves, and ask you O Lord to display your ‘arm’ for the benefit of the Church. We pray for judgment and for mercy, for you are a just and merciful God. May the Church be able to say of them as was said of the Apostle Paul, ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ (Galatians 1:23)
For the sake of your kingdom and glory, AMEN
‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ (Luke 1:37)
October 8, 2003
Hey my friend,
What a good prayer you have for commitment to wait as God unfolds “A Call to Prayer”. You know I have come to realize that as He is engineering timing He hems us in to wait by withholding what we are anticipating– so He engineers the wait whether we are patient or not! It is all grace when we can wait without anxious chaffing and I know that is what you desire.
I used my American clippers to cut 7 heads of hair yesterday before the clippers refused to continue– so I will haul the rest to “Good Boys” salon in Wakiso Town this afternoon and pay shillings to complete the task. We shave the boys and girls heads right down to the scalp until their heads glisten in the light. Recently one of the mamas went into the bush and broke off a leafy plant, crushed it and rubbed the fresh shaved heads with it. I asked why and she responded, “JjaJa, it can keep the heads from burning and even the insects will stay away!” African hair is very coarse and the clippers got so hot after the 4th child that it was burning their scalps!
This morning I will haul the 4 new ones to SOS clinic to get a blood test to see if they came to us with malaria. We were there the day we brought them to get them checked over and to get all started on antibiotic syrup for upper respiratory infections. Flavia, housemother of cottage 3, is believing that she too is having a relapse so we seek information for wise treatment today. I am completely in love with our new baby Chloe! She got here on Monday and took her first steps yesterday! Mama Flavia and I shouted with such delight that we scared her and she sat down and began to cry! Thank you – thank you for tending to the things you have this week. The way you have chosen to settle up financially is fine with us. We are grateful beyond belief. I am still not sure how we will celebrate but Casey seems okay with whatever comes.
She experienced some significant loneliness over the weekend and it was more painful to watch than to experience for myself. This place is most fine but there is a point in the evening when you feel the loss of everything familiar. God comes quickly. We finally got a family picture taken for our prayer card.
That picture will always make me smile-we look so harmonious but James was mad because I woke him from a nap to take it and he still had sheet creases in his cheek-Casey was put out because she had come home ready to head out and visit and we told her she could not go to Melanie’s to play-I had just been on my back in that dress under a sink trying to tighten the faucet and was sweating up a storm?etc., etc, The tree behind us was pushed over during construction and was lying side ways and growing ugly and crooked. A dear guard here who loves trees helped us resurrect it and get it heading skyward again. I wanted to remember his kind service to us. Thought you’d appreciate the story behind the shot!
May God sustain you as you wait – the description of how He built excitement for the event when you could share about the information card that folks had received was priceless. He will do that again and again.
You have my love and His,
September 23, 2003
Good Morning Friend,
How much I have to learn about what it means to worship! It is not about being comfortable in a pew–it is not about having a great sound system–it is not about beginning on time or being well ordered–it is not about being timed down to the hour. As I engage in worship with my friends here they show me it is the greatest treat of the week! They come prepared to stay the day! They hunger to talk and share of all the ways God has blessed them in the past week, so the services begin with testimonies of God’s faithfulness–there are so many wanting to speak that the Pastor often has to limit it to 8 or so! It was heart melting when our helper Flavia stood up and with tears in her voice gave thanks to God for her new job with JjaJa Mike and Lissa. What a privilege it was to be in worship in this place! Worship is alive in Wakiso and in my heart. There are two churches that we take the children to. One is close, just a couple of miles from the village and is called Wakiso Central Baptist Church. That church is led by a wonderful shepherd named Pastor Fred Kibuuka. His wife is named Susan and she is a great help to Rafiki both in ministering to children and identifying girls who would be good candidates for the Girls’ Center.
When worship begins, it opens with music. Here at Wakiso they have a fragile electronic piano and a man whose enthusiasm more than makes up for any lack of skill. His chord progressions are more rhythmic and drum beat like than they are carrying any melody line. The worshippers love for the music to be vigorous and to build in energy and participation, so the praise time goes on and on with people on their feet clapping and so joy filled. I was struck with how the faces are smiling and how delighted they are to be together—our worship seems passive and unemotional by comparison. Solos flow into congregational singing and back again–and yet there are no bulletins and you are convinced that what goes on is spontaneous and honest expression from hearts overflowing with love and gratefulness to God. Following the music, the Pastor invites the congregation to pray and everyone does–out loud and at the same time–the cacophony of sound that rises is powerful–some crying out for mercy, some jubilant and thankful, some confessing and asking for forgiveness.
There is no hurry in any of this and at a time that seems corporately sensed a quieter song begins and we are ushered together into a time of Pastoral Prayer. The most striking difference in American and African prayer is that we bring a list of requests to God and they bring a list of praise and thanksgiving. What a contrast–we have much and want more– they have almost nothing and are profoundly grateful and want to speak it! The time of offering is also an event–there is a table with a basket set up front and the people sing and dance on the way to deposit their shillings and seem thrilled to have some to give.
I love Pastor Fred’s wife Susan. She is a fireball and completely dedicated to children’s ministry. Children from the surrounding village wander into church at odd times and find a place on a crooked, rough bench and look up to her and listen attentively. They sit pressed together for about 45 minutes relatively still and listening–no flannel board visuals, no VCR, no snack time or toy time–they listen to her teach/preach from Scripture. The children range in age from about three years old to about eleven.
The only discipline I see being done is for her to move a child to the front row so they could listen better! She too begins her time by asking the children, “Who has a testimony of what they are thankful to Jesus for?” 25 hands reach for the sky and they are anxious to go to the front and tell their friends how Jesus helped them by giving them a t-shirt, recovery from flu (cold), providing school fees, healing from malaria, some new slippers (flip flops), or a mother healed, or getting a sweetie (candy), etc. It is the most humbling thing in the world to sit amid a people who seem to have nothing but who have eyes to see that life is a gift and who have trained eyes to look for something to be grateful for. How much I have to learn about worship! Until later—lissa