This is an image I downloaded from the Voice of the Martyrs website (with their permission). The man on the left is Christian Bounchan Kanthavong, who spent 13 years and eight months in prison in Laos for his faith. On the right is the actor who portrays him in a video made by VOM that tells his story.
Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. If you want to read more about the persecuted church, I suggest the Voice of the Martyrs website (www.persecution.com). Along with great resources and a regularly published newsletter,the VOM website allows you to sign up for weekly prayer updates that will help you to pray specifically (I don’t know about you, but my generalized prayers don’t pack a lot of oomph). VOM also has a really cool letter-writing opportunity. If you go to http://www.prisoneralert.com, you can pick an imprisoned fellow believer and choose phrases to create a letter to encourage that person. The site translates the phrases, you print them, and then you can send the letter to the address the site provides.
Another website is http://www.opendoorsusa.org, and http://www.persecutedchurch.org has an even fuller list of organizations (and their websites) that support the persecuted church.
This morning in church we read Revelations 7:9-11: “…there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’[a] nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’[b] ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’[c]”
Earlier this week I ran across a hymn by John Oxenham (1852-1941) that reminded me of the incredible family connection we have with believers in Christ all across the earth. I’m sharing it here:
IN CHRIST THERE IS NO EAST OR WEST
In Christ there is no east or west,
In Him no south or north;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.
In Him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find;
His service is the golden cord
Close binding all mankind.
Join hands, then brothers of the faith,
Whate’er your race may be.
Who serves my Father as a son
Is surely kin to me.
In Christ now meet both east and west,
In Him meet south and north;
All Christly souls are one in Him
Throughout the whole wide earth.