We often speak about providing for the needs of others. The poor and the homeless come to mind. But what about the persecuted church? It is easy for us who sit in the midst of a comfortable life (and yes, despite what we might think at any given moment, we are pretty comfortable) to imagine that people suffering for their faith in Christ as something historical, something from the days of Rome. The fact is that Christians have been persecuted throughout history. Lately, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic terrorism and ISIS in Syria and Iraq have brought this sad state of things to the forefront again.
Crucifixion, beheading, being hunted down, discriminated against, robbed, beaten, raped, murdered, loss of life and home: these are very real things for many of our brothers and sisters worldwide and especially in the Middle-East. All over the world followers of Christ are in need as many have lost livelihood, home, possessions and have been driven from lands their families have occupied since the time the Son of God walked among us.
Persecuted Christians are in need firstly of our prayers but equally so of our support. They are hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, wounded and sick. They need us. As it says in the reading from Matthew, we are not only caring for our brothers and sisters when we support the persecuted church but we are also doing these things ‘to Christ” as well. Likewise if we do not provide for our needy fellow Christians, it is the same as not providing for Jesus himself.
In Luke 10, the Good Samaritan provides for the needs of a stranger without thought or concern for who the man was or from where he came. How then can we not provide for our own given that Christ commands us to do so? And how can we forget that, despite the distance between us, they are indeed our own?
Therefore I urge you to pray and find ways to support our brothers and sisters who suffer at the hands of the ungodly for their love of Christ.
Father, we cry out to you for your persecuted children, for those who endure the worse for their faith in Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Send your sustaining spirit to be with those who are in pain. May your spirit change the hearts of those who dwell in sin and evil – those who harass, torture and victimize. Move us by that same spirit to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters who suffer. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.