One of the themes of 2013 for me seems to be what's commonly called "the persecuted church". Our family's daily devotional is Open Doors' "One With Them"; I'm using Open Doors' daily prayer points; and our church is focusing on the top 10 countries on the World Watch List. Alongside the prayer, I'm learning a lot through some readings on persecution.
Because I process by writing, and because I seem to get asked a lot of questions in this area, I'm jumping in with a series I'm calling Persecution 101. As I have prayed this year about what my new focus should be, persecution has zoomed up the list. I'm convinced that God has impressed this series on my heart - not because of any special knowledge or experience I have, but simply because He wants me to share what I'm learning with others. Along the way, I hope that you'll use the comments section so we can dialogue and continue to learn together.
What's on tap for this series? While I've previously written about persecution on this blog, and this series will likely draw from some of that earlier works especially as we discuss myths and prayer points, this series will have more of an academic or analytical bent (though hopefully, you will be encouraged and inspired along the way!). Here are my heart's goals for this series:
- That we will understand what persecution is and how to recognize it
- That we will personally identify with persecuted believers (Hebrews 13:3).
- That we will catch a personal vision for what it means to suffer with the parts of the body that suffer (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).
- That we will grow in discernment about how we can best help the suffering church "strengthen what remains" (Revelation 3:2).
#2: Why study persecution? Some background
#3: What is persecution? Legal and Biblical Definitions
#4: The Pattern of Persecution
#5: Sources of Persecution
#7:Helping through prayer
#8: What next? Ways to help
#9: Lessons from the persecuted
My sources will include academic research (sources will be cited); a term paper that I wrote for my master's program; two books by Brother Andrew (Secret Believers and Light Force); and Faith That Endures by Ronald Boyd-MacMillan. Boyd-MacMillan's book structure provides the basic format of our series structure, but my posts will not simply be summaries of his book. However, if you wish to do your own study of the persecuted church, I cannot recommend his book highly enough! It's a great all-in-one reference point. The two books by Brother Andrew provide more of a ground-level view through stories on the ground, while Boyd-MacMillan provides a wide-angle view with a good theological basis for understanding many of the principles we see in place in Andrew's books.
Ok - let's get started! If you are "in" with this series, please pray for me as I write and for all who are reading this. Feel free to post your prayer in the comments. My prayer is below!
Heavenly Father, God of angel armies, we know that You have strengthened us for everything that You want us to do. We pray, Lord, for Your anointing on our minds and hearts as we study about persecution. We deeply desire to learn more about the suffering church, and how we can walk with them in a way that honors Your commands in Scripture. With knowledge comes responsibility. We pray that we will learn and act accordingly. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.