I love hearing stories of how God is working in many parts of the world in spite of government, religious, and cultural opposition. I recently read an article about a woman from Saudi Arabia who came to Christ because she had a “Jesus dream”. She told of more than 30 of her friends who had also come to Christ because they had “Jesus dreams”. God is revealing himself in ways that mirror the book of Acts. Just this week I read the account of Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10). Peter had a vision while praying on a rooftop and Cornelius saw an angel who told him to summon Peter. It was Peter’s vision and obedience and Cornelius’ obedience in response to the encounter with the angel that opened the door for ministry to the Gentiles.
I read of great people of courage like the woman who smuggled Bibles into Saudi Arabia by sewing them into her burka. There are others who hold “church” meetings in secret locations in spite of the threats from hostile neighbors or hostile governments. Some have lost everything, including their families, and yet they continue to serve.
The stories of visions, Gospel advancement, and perseverance abound. It is a joy to focus on all that God is doing in “closed” countries. However, we dare not forget the stories of persecution that abound. Every year there are thousands who are martyred for following Jesus.
Around 215 million Christians face significant levels of persecution in the world today, according to the latest World Watch List from Open Doors. Christians in some parts of the world are beaten, driven from their homes, and fired from their jobs. Some are totally rejected by family and friends.
Sunday, November 3 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. There are resources, including a video at https://www.persecution.com/idop/. As American Christians, we need to be reminded that life for believers in other parts of the world is not as comfortable as it is here. There are several reasons we need the reminders. Hearing stories of the obstacles others face should cause us to be thankful for the grace we have received. It should also prompt us to pray for these brothers and sisters around the world. Hopefully it will also strengthen our resolve to faithfully follow Jesus.
At a minimum, set aside November 3 to pray for persecuted Christians around the world! Beyond that, why not feature a “closed country” each month and pray that God would open doors and that more and more would have “Jesus dreams”.