I want to share something with you about a troubling situation the Lord has put on my heart recently. It’s actually not something “new,” but it involves a problem more desperate than I ever dreamed.
I recently read the book Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn. It’s “just” a novel…fiction. However, even though the characters and story are “make-believe,” the book is based on sobering true-to-life events.
This book describes the persecuted church in China. I was overwhelmed as I read the story. I had no idea how serious the situation is over there…on the other side of the world from me…so far from my safe haven here in the United States.
“The Chinese Christians—those who are truly walking in a relationship with Jesus Christ—are in a constant state of danger as they live their daily lives. They don’t have our freedom to worship and serve the Lord. They cannot even carry their Bibles in public or have a casual conversation about Jesus with their friends.”
Today, many Believers are being tortured in China and other places on this planet. This torture is more brutal than we can even fathom. It’s common for girls to be raped and then beheaded because they refuse to renounce Jesus as their Lord.
Thousands of these Chinese Christians are destined to become second or third generation martyrs, killed just like their parents and grandparents were. Some will be executed after being caught in house churches, which often have to meet in obscure villages in the middle of the night.
Yet none of this danger seems to deter those committed to the Lord. The fear of being caught and punished is certainly real to these courageous Believers, but their love for the Lord is more important to them than anything else in the world.
Randy Alcorn’s book has brought me to a new awareness of the severe plight of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering because of their choice to follow Jesus Christ. I became very “involved” with the characters in the book. Their names, personalities, and stories were real to me—like people I know personally.
I was particularly moved by the story of one of the main characters, Li Quan. After being captured and thrown into jail, he was subjected to numerous beatings, humiliations, forced labor, and the stress of not knowing if his family was okay. Yet the cry of his heart was not, “Lord, please deliver me out of these trials,” nor was it even, “Lord, help me endure this intense persecution.” Rather, Li Quan’s cry in prayer was, “Lord, give me an audience to tell Your story!”
With a pang of shame in my heart, I cried for my brother Li Quan. And I wept for all of these precious martyrs—multiplied thousands who love Jesus so much they have counted the cost and are willing to suffer or die for Him. With their last breath, the cry of their heart is to praise their Savior and be a witness for Him.
How Will We Respond?
I came away from this novel with a keen desire to “sound an alarm” and let people know what is happening to persecuted Believers around the world. We who live in lands of freedom must pick up the burden of these precious saints and pray for them.
“We must pray for their strength, their safety, and their ability to spread the Gospel. We must ask God to keep them faithful to Him in the face of ruthless persecution.”
The greatest need of Chinese Christians is the Word of God. They need Bibles in their own language, and they are risking their lives to smuggle Bibles into their country. Many Bibles also have been painstakingly translated by hand over years, and these are the most treasured of all possessions.
For some, the price to be a Christian is very, very expensive. I have to ask myself: Could I do what Li Quan did? Would I be able to suffer or die for my faith?
As we pray for our brothers and sisters in China, I believe the Lord will help us appreciate our salvation in new ways. We must never take for granted the torturous sacrifice the Lord Jesus made to purchase our salvation.
It’s sobering—and humbling—to compare our problems to the grave situations faced by many of our fellow-Believers around the world. We should give thanks to the Lord for allowing us to live in a nation where we’re free to worship and witness freely and openly.
May we be ever mindful of the great sacrifice the persecuted Christians are paying so others may come to know God. May we also give a voice to these martyrs by telling their story and asking others to pray for them.
I thank God for your caring and compassionate heart. Please join me in praying for these heroes of the faith, and email me your stories about other persecuted Christians so I can join you in praying for them.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.. May He make His face shine upon you, and give you peace. One day, we’ll all be “safely home”…but until then, let’s pray for our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world.
Barbara Cerullo is devoted to authentically sharing God’s love with women. She authors From Barbara’s Heart, where her spiritual insights, heartwarming family stories, and delightful anecdotes encourage readers with God’s faithfulness. Her husband, David, is CEO of Inspiration Ministries.