Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Christian persecution and prayer

Tuesday's prayer in the Treasury of Daily Prayer calls upon Christians to pray for their persecuted brethren around the world. Here in America, we are comfortable, if not exceedingly wealthy, as compared to the rest of the world. We are free to attend church on Sunday, or sleep in or do something else. No-one will round us up and put us in torturous dungeons for simply gathering for prayer, scripture, and the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist.

But this is not the case in many places.  Just meeting with other Christians is an ordeal, and people will risk their freedom and even their lives just to gather with a few other Christians in secret, even if only for a few moments, to hear the precious Word of God, and if they are fortunate, to receive the Holy Sacrament from the hands of a pastor - dodging nosy neighbors and police investigators who dog their coming and going.

There are still places where Christians languish away in dungeons for doing nothing other than believing in Christ with their hearts and confessing him with their lips (Romans 10:9).

And even where Communism has been mercifully overthrown, people still bear the scars of its cruelty, and churches continue to struggle amid the social and economic ruins created by atheistic collectivist ideology that "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."  The idea that human beings are created in God's image and have worth and value and that Jesus died to liberate all mankind from the prison of sin are still dangerous and revolutionary ideas in much of the world.

The Rev. Richard Wurmbrand and his wife Sabina, upon being liberated from prison, fled to the west and started the organization Voice of the Martyrs. The Wurmbrands' books are still available - including Richard's Tortured for Christ (which is available for free) and Sabina's The Pastor's Wife.  The Wurmbrand's story is told in cartoon form for young people in The Richard Wurmbrand Story.  You can see the trailer here.

The Treasury's Tuesday prayer (page 1307) reminds us to use our greatest weapon: prayer against the crafts and assaults of the devil who mercilessly attacks our brothers and sisters around the world.  Let us not be complacent and insulated from them, nor from our Lord who was also tortured for our sakes!

Almighty God, heavenly Father; we praise Your fathomless mercy, with which You take pity on sinful men.  All the prophets and apostles preach this to us in Your Holy Word.
Let our hope not be put to shame when we pray to You for all who suffer at this time.  For behold, the evil foe has become mighty, and the great ones of this world rule often with unrighteousness.  O God, who in former times caused Your saints to overcome injustice, strengthen also today all who stand in need of Your help.  Grant that all prisoners of war - held as slaves and sacrifices of earthly wrath - may return to their home.  Stand by all refugees and homeless people, and be their justice.  Be a father to the widows and orphans with Your strong protection.
Go through bars and fences to those who are imprisoned for the sake of Your name; strengthen them for a good witness, and let them not waver in the confession of Your name.  Teach us through their example, and the example of so many holy martyrs, to be ever watchful of the confession of Your Son's name.  Let us not be put to shame when the evil foe lays his hand on us.  But if it is Your will that we be persecuted for confessing Jesus as our Lord and only Savior, then support us in Your grace that we may withstand all trials, and grant us peaceful rest; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen. 


Sbd. Benjamin Harju said...

Father Beane,

I experienced really only the tail-end of Communist Russia, with the USSR being dissolved while I was in middle school. The horror of its militant atheist tactics really came into stark view for me in a book I read recently about a priest who survived many years in the gulag. This book was just a glimpse at the depraved tactics of communism in that region.

We don't know how good we have it in the USA.

Paul said...

Our congregation has ordered materials from Voice of the Martyrs for use on the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Open our eyes, Lord Jesus!