International (MNN) – Around the world Christians are suffering for Christ’s name, but who cares for persecuted pastors?
Uncommon circumstances, common struggles
Chip Ingram, Pastor of Venture Christian Church and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, recently went to a conference to encourage and teach some of these persecuted pastors. One thing was instantly clear; while facing intense pressure and persecution, some of the biggest discouragements they faced were the same as those that plague their brothers and sisters halfway around the world.
Wayward children, struggling marriages, and inconsistent personal Scripture times topped the list of struggles. These pastors face hardships that have the potential to wreck their homes, joy, and peace. People want to take away their livelihood, food, and even lives. Yet, more than removing these struggles, persecuted pastors cry out for a vibrant prayer life. They want a faith that is strong enough to allow them to die for Jesus.
The reality of that kind of strength sunk in for Ingram when a persecuted pastor told him the story of a 17-year-old whose vibrant life with Christ made him willing to die rather than deny his Savior.
Following Christ even unto death
ISIS was sweeping through this particular area, killing non-Muslims. A Muslim family offered to take in their Christian neighbor’s 17-year-old son, give him a Muslim name, and say he was their child. This would save his life. His mother was grateful and excited and told her son about his opportunity to live.
But Ingram shares, “He says, ‘Well mom, I think the Bible is clear if I deny Jesus before men, he will deny me before the Father in heaven and I won’t do that.’
“And ISIS came through, and I’m sorry if this is a bit graphic, but they shot him in the head before his mother and his sister.
“And he [the pastor] said, it actually galvanized the Church and he said, ‘We in our country used to talk about the commitment are you willing to live for Christ?’ And he said, ‘Now it’s changed in our day. Now the question we ask is are you really willing to die for Christ?’ And a 17-year-old boy with great faith has kind of led the way.”
Helping those on the frontlines
In places where trusting Jesus could mean immediate death, those who stand strong encourage persecuted pastors, churches, and individuals. But they need more.
The frontlines are hard. Persecuted Christians are often short on resources, but facing constant attack. They need to be reminded that they are not alone in their fight.
To many in the US, the call is not to stand against great trials. Instead, we must support those under attack.
Ingram says, “Those of us that are the haves, the Bible is really, really clear. Those of us with time and energy and resources and money and, in some cases, knowledge and training– we have more than just a moral obligation, it’s a mandate from Jesus to help.”
As the body of Christ, we need to stand up and use the resources God has provided to further His word and support the Persecuted Church.
Ingram is using his platform as a teacher and pastor to help refuel persecuted pastors for battle, but the whole Church needs to be involved.
Talk with your pastor today about how your church can help support persecuted believers around the world.
Pray that God would strengthen the faith, marriages, and families of persecuted pastors so they can continue to teach His truth to a desperate world.
Look for opportunities to share your resources and gifts with those currently on the frontlines.
Whatever you can do, do. In the body of Christ, each job is important, but what an extra joy it is to encourage those facing trials every day. As Ingram says, “I can’t believe I had the honor and privilege to get to serve them.”