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It’s the eve of Good Friday. The persecuted church is on my mind tonight; partly because my son has been on a trip to China and has been talking about how challenging it was to meet a persecuted believer when he was over there, but it’s also because they are one of the reasons I’m a believer today. Their lives have always been a rich source of encouragement and hope and a kind of ‘giving of the lie’ to the scoffing Spirit of the Age in my own society. And there are some hard facts worth knowing. The ferocity of the persecution for example, and the numbers: 465
believers are martyred every day and, unless something changes, it will be 574 by 2025. (International Bulletin of Missionary Research. Vol. 33, No. 1: 32)

If you haven’t been doing so, I’d like to encourage you to talk to them. Yes, you may not stem the flow of blood, but you might make a difference and in the process have your own soul transformed. The bible tells us to bear one another’s burdens. Stopping the actual crucifixion was of course not the main reason Jesus wanted their prayers, it was because he wanted to make sure that this trial had the best possible outcome.

Stanhope, a character in Charles William’s ‘Descent into Hell’, in talking about bearing one another’s burdens, says, ‘There are laws that are common to us all, dead and living, which … allow us to live and laugh and be ashamed, to be content to be helped … Not to give up your ‘parcel’ is to as much be a rebel as to not carry another’s.’

This is passion night, the night in the garden that Jesus’ disciples would remember with sorrow because it was when he begged them to join him in his great hour of need and torment, but they just went to sleep. Perhaps, in honour of your persecuted brothers and sisters, you could make this night your night in the garden of watching and praying for them?

 

They and theiir friends are out there on facebook.com/13.3australia   and    at www.persecution.com.au

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