“In our minds, therefore, we must share the sufferings of our brothers, our fellow-members, who are placed in unendurable danger; and we must pray to the Lord for them.”
- Colum Cille in Adomnán, Life of Columba, Irish, 7th century
LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear,
To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
- Psalm 10.17, 18
Early on in my ministry, I came across a remark by the late British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, in which he cited the continuation of Christianity in lands confined within the Soviet Empire as the single, most remarkable fact of 20th century history.
Muggeridge insisted on this because of the resiliency of Christians in those parts of the world, in the face of the worst continuous persecution the Church had known in centuries.
I began to research the state of Christianity in Soviet lands, and I discovered, much to my dismay, that American Christians paid very little attention to this situation. I found no courses or reading lists at theological seminaries, no Sunday school or Bible study materials from Christian publishers, and only a handful of books, and those not easy to locate.
Here was the most remarkable fact of the 20th century, involving our own brothers and sisters in the Lord, and we in this country were indifferent to and ignorant of it.
That didn’t make sense to me then, and it doesn’t make sense now.
The Soviet Empire has been relegated to the dustbin of history, but Christians continue to suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ. In China, parts of India, Southeast Asia, Cuba, in the Muslim world, and in parts of Africa, being a Christian is more than a struggle; it can be a dangerous way of life.
The one-Sunday-a-year service for the persecuted Church, currently fashionable in American evangelical churches, is a mockery of what we owe our fellow-believers. These persecuted brethren are as much a part of our lives as any church member we’ve known for years. We must not fail to pray for them every day, and to enter their sufferings, if only in our thoughts and prayers.
I rejoice that Brothers of this Fellowship are actively involved in ministry to and with Christians in lands where persecution still exists, and that resources from this ministry are being used in persecuted churches in other lands. I urge you to pray for ministries like those that reach out to Christians who are suffering affliction, and for our suffering brothers and sisters all over the world.
These days, we can expect that many of our neighbors will be experiencing affliction – if only in the form of fear of the unknown. We need to pray for them, look for opportunities to greet and encourage them, and be available, as needed, to help relieve their burdens and cares by every available means.
Christians have always taken the lead in caring about and for those who are afflicted in various ways. We must not neglect our brethren in other lands, who are daily afflicted for their faith in Jesus; and we must not neglect our brethren and neighbors in our own community, as the terrors and trials of these days continue upon us.
Remember to pray for those who are afflicted. Take their burden upon you as you come before the Lord, and let their suffering quicken and enlarge neighbor love in your soul. If you seek ways of bearing others’ burdens, God will grant them to you. But it all begins in prayer, and prayer is something each of us can do for those who are afflicted in various ways.
1. Who are the afflicted in your community? How might you pray for them?
2. Meditate on Psalm 10. Let this guide your prayers for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted around the world.
Psalm 10.4, 5 (Aberystwyth: Jesus, Lover of My Soul)
Wicked men in boastful pride seek not, Lord, Your glorious face.
To their shame and great disgrace, they Your existence have denied.
Still they prosper every day; from their sight on high concealed,
Your great wrath shall be revealed on their every word and way.
Give me grace, O Lord, to bear the burdens of others, especially today as I…
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Adomnán, p. 169.