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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Does the American Church Show a Concern for its Global Persecuted Brethren?

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bearmaster
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Joined: 2011/7/12
Posts: 3050


 Does the American Church Show a Concern for its Global Persecuted Brethren?

Though dated. This article from Voice of the Martyrs speaks volumes about the church today. Rather I should say speaks volumes about the lack of concern the American church shows for our persecuted brethren.

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September 09, 2013

Do Americans Care About Persecuted Christians?

VOM’s Todd Nettleton was interviewed last week by Mission Network News about the question of why more attention isn’t paid—in the media and in American churches—to the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters. Here’s the resulting story from MNN:

International (MNN) — The Church is under fire. At that sentence, half the people who started reading this article just moved on to something more interesting.

However, that response is troublesome. The plight of believers gets little attention on the global stage, leaving many Christians throughout North America unaware, and therefore, indifferent to what’s going on in the body of Christ.

Mention persecution, and eyes glaze over. Silence continues because not enough church leaders are talking about it from the pulpit. Despite Barna Research stating the opposite, there’s a movement in North America where church leaders and pastors say their flocks don’t want to hear such negative and depressing things.

That’s despite the following:

Al Qaeda vows to slaughter Christians after the U.S. ‘liberates’ Syria. Nigeria’s Boko Haram has slaughtered 3,000 Christians since they began waging war. Egypt’s Coptic Church is under fire. A Church official there says after the recent violence that destroyed over 72 churches, there are just 57 Christian churches in the entire country, down from more than 300 as recently as 2003. The Barnabas Fund, a ministry to the persecuted Church, is airlifting Christians out of Sudan. So far, they’ve evacuated more than 5,000 Christians from northern Sudan. In Pakistan, believers are still trying to put their lives back together after 3,000 angry Muslims torched the Joseph Colony six months ago. That’s only part of the Middle East and North Africa. Asia is also on the list. North Korea is trying to erase Christians, and has been atop the Open Doors World Watch List for 11 years as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. There’s ‘religicide’ going on in Burma, and in parts of India.

And still, there’s relative silence from North America. There are a few who have been speaking out as loudly as they can, but the overall impassive response to the worldwide persecuted church begs the question: do we care? Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA says, “I think the question arises because we look around the world. we see more than 60 countries where Christians face some form of harassment or persecution, and you look at the average response of the average American Christian which is basically, ‘Man, that’s too bad.’”

A defensive response is also common. But here too, Nettleton asks, “If we care, how is that being lived out? How are we SHOWING that we care? Not based on clicking the ‘like’ button on a Facebook page, but how are we showing that we care in action that is designed to produce a result or some easing if the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters?” He goes on to explain, “How we show we care is by being involved, by connecting with these Christians who are suffering. The first line of doing that really is knowing them: knowing their names, knowing their situations, knowing the countries that they live in so that we can pray effectively.”

Nettleton is also quick to note that the issue has gotten more traction as awareness of social justice issues has risen. “More people know about the persecuted church now than did 15 or 20 years ago. I think the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which is coming up in November, has been a significant part of making the American church aware of what’s happening with persecuted Christians.”

But there’s still a long way to go, he concedes. “One of the challenges is Americans are pretty home-focused. Our media covers things that are happening in America. In a 30-minute news program, we might get two minutes of what’s going on around the world.”

Another aspect is understanding the spiritual and biblical component of persecution. “These are not just statistics or people who live 10-thousand miles from here. This is our family. These are our brothers and sisters.” He points out his own two brothers. If they were to be arrested and face the scenarios faced by Christians in Eritrea, for example, he would be making noise about their plight. The same should be true of the body of Christ. “I should be aware of what’s happening with them, and when they’re being persecuted and oppressed, I should be speaking out on their behalf. I should be letting people know that it is happening and doing whatever I can within my power to make it stop happening.”

When believers put real faces, names and places to the stories, the bigger picture becomes clearer. Nettleton explains, “It’s not presented as ‘this is what the Bible said was going to happen. This is what Jesus said ‘if you follow me, the world will hate you’. This is happening all around the world. Followers of Christ are being hated because they’re followers of Jesus Christ.”

Sometimes Americans avoid the discussion of the persecuted church because the news is discouraging. It’s hard to hear and yet feel helpless about changing anything. However, Nettleton breaks response down to its most simple elements. “You start by praying. you educate yourself, an then, whatever God lays on your heart as a response, you keep saying ‘yes’ to that and keep responding to that. You will find that you will enter into the ‘fellowship of suffering’.”

The what? Nettleton explains that when people invest in taking on the troubles facing believers worldwide, they begin to understand the God who provokes such a response. As a result, “The persecuted church is strengthened because we can encourage them, we can stand with them, and we can be a voice for them. But we’re strengthened as well because we see their faithfulness, and we see God’s faithfulness to them. And our faith is encouraged and challenged, and we find that we grow spiritually, as well.”

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I think the situation has changed very little. If anything there's more apathy shown regarding the persecuted.

Many American believers are not aware of the name of Andrew Brunson. A pastor missionary who is in prison for his faith in Turkey.

Many American believers are not aware of the name of Leah Sharibu. A young woman who just turned 15 years old today. A young woman who refused to deny her faith in Jesus to the Boko Haram. And when a deal was negotiated by the Nigerian president to release the Muslim women she was kidnapped with. She was not allowed to be released. No one knows if she is still alive or if she has been violated. The tragedy is most American beluevers do not even know who this young woman is.

Many believers have never heard the name of Asia Bibi. A mother who has been imprisoned in Pakistan for nine years because of her testimony of Jesus Christ. She could very well be the first woman that Pakistan executes for her faith in Christ.

Many American believers are not even aware of the 2000 brothers and sisters who are imprisoned for their faith in Jesus Christ in Eritrea.

Many American believers are not aware of the tens of thousands of brothers and sisters who are imprisoned in their faith in the death camps of North Korea.

And I could go on. It has been told to my face at the persecuted church is a myth. It has been told to my face that the persecuted church is merely a narrative. Perhaps even believe by some in this forum. A forum member insinuated today that the persecuted church is merely a narrative.

There are precious few who do stand in the gap for our persecuted brethren. They will be blessed. But for the most part most American believers remain silent.

Doctor Martin Luther King said that we will know our friends by their silence. Will our persecuted brethren know us by our silence. And again this is our spiritual family. A family that we choose to ignore. Even in this forum.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us guiltless. To not speak is to speak. To not act is to act.

I suspect at some point I will be banned from this forum because I speak out for the persecuted. But someone has to raise their voice on their behalf. Somebody has to raise their prayers on their behalf. Because what I see coming from this forum and the American church is basically silence.

All I can say is God have mercy on us if we fail to speak out for his bride who is in the shadow of the cross.

Blaine


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Brother Blaine

 2018/5/14 23:26Profile
CalvaryCom
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Joined: 2007/9/29
Posts: 103
greater NYC area

 Re: Do Americans Care About the Persecuted Church?

Most Americans don't care about the persecuted church because they are drunk on entertainment. When persecution for faith in Jesus Christ hits North America with full force there will be a huge outcry in the church. Many nominal Christians will cave into whatever demands are made of them (I already see so many rainbow flags hung across the doorways of many NYC churches, indicating their embrace of homosexual sin).

I doubt you would be run off the forum unless you began making direct accusations against the moderators or other members).

I have followed your posts on Andrew Brunson in Turkey & pray for his release as well. Only time will tell if he is to obtain a martyr's crown or not.


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Alec Stevens

 2018/5/15 6:43Profile
Gloryandgrace
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Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 531
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re: Do Americans Care About the Persecuted Church?

Brother Blaine: you posted the youtube of Millenial Church hunters...a cute parody of modern American Christianity...that we all laugh at because it hits us right where we live.

If we parody ourselves in this light...could there be any possibility for seriousness regarding those suffering for their Christianity? I hardly think so.

No, the carnal mind has no room for a Christianity that is reproachful to it, the best tactic is to ignore it.

But what is the answer? What do we more than complain? There are a hundred more deficiencies that can be exposed and guilt painted in blood red upon all of us to some degree. Solutions would be better than guilt.


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Marvin

 2018/5/15 22:49Profile
TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 4570
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 Re:

Generally a person should feel guilty when something is their fault and they know it.

I know that Bear’s heart is in the right place and that he does have a burden for the persecuted church.

But whose fault is it that there are those persecuted for their beliefs? How is it the fault of those who are not currently under persecution?

If I was under strong persecution here in the US, I certainly would not want my brothers and sisters in non- persecuted areas to feel guilty about it. It’s not their fault.

Encouraging folks to pray is one thing; laying a guilt trip on them they do not deserve is another.


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Todd

 2018/5/16 7:14Profile
MrBillPro
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3075
Texas

 Re:

Quote:
Gloryandgrace....But what is the answer? What do we do more than complain? There are a hundred more deficiencies that can be exposed and guilt painted in blood red upon all of us to some degree. Solutions would be better than guilt.

And there's your answer! I guess, Marvin, Todd and Bill took the bait, but I know Bear couldn't take his eyes off the monitor until someone did, you can relax now Mr. Bear. :-)


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Mr. Bill

 2018/5/16 10:41Profile
StirItUp
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Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 876
Johannesburg, South Africa

 Re: Do Americans Care About the Persecuted Church?

Brother Blaine,

I do appreciate your reminders and understand your deep concern.

Most of us are still very comfortable and safe so do not really grasp the reality...and are quite happy for it to remain that way.

What we must know and appreciate is that Jesus identifies Himself with their suffering, just like He said to Saul en route to Damascus: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?

May the Lord give us all a similar insight and heart of compassion that we may, at the very least, lift up our brethren in earnest prayer.

God bless,


_________________
William

 2018/5/16 12:00Profile
TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 4570
NC, USA

 Re:

//and are quite happy for it to remain that way.//

Yes, I generally am not in favor of the torture and killing of loved ones, but maybe that’s just me.


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Todd

 2018/5/16 12:19Profile
Gloryandgrace
Member



Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 531
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re:


Lest someone get the wrong impression, that I think Brother Blaine is simply guilting us about the persecuted Church, I am not suggesting that at all...though my post addressed guilt. I am addressing the fact that we can all see deficiencies in so many areas and none of them is without significance and importance. However, I know Jesus takes us forward with renewed passion, compassion, joyfulness when we see his love for us is deeper and greater than we ever expected.

Our intimate closeness to Christ in prayer and our daily walk is that place and time where Jesus communicates his own heart to us. His desires become our desires, His will becomes our will. This same thing is necessary for evangelism and concern for the lost...who are surely hell-bound where they will suffer eternally, not for a short time though the flesh may suffer greatly.

But so many have no concern for the lost, nor the persecuted brother; I believe this is because their heart has been distracted by worldly things and worldly endeavors.
I know of no other way to pull a man off the world, than showing him that a close association with Jesus is a genuine flow of the kingdom of God to me and through me. If I cannot validate that life flow of Jesus, I do not believe I am able to persuade men to leave behind their worldly things and endeavors.

The answer may be a direct subscription to VOM magazine, ( I am a subscriber, reader and prayer for the persecuted Church) but I am persuaded I have that interest because it is Christ-revealed interest and compassion, not because I see the need ( though it be great ) or because they need help in financial ways ( though that does great good) but because it is born of God in me.

I believe any endeavor for kingdom purposes must be at the heart a God-revealed passion.


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Marvin

 2018/5/16 18:56Profile
StirItUp
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Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 876
Johannesburg, South Africa

 Re:

Amen Marvin


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William

 2018/5/16 23:54Profile
StirItUp
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Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 876
Johannesburg, South Africa

 Re:

Hi Todd,

Of course we will be happy if this kind of persecution does not come our way :) but I was referring to us preferring to remain oblivious or unconscious of the persecution suffered by our brothers and sisters across the globe.

I, by the way, am as guilty of it as anyone else.

There is a definite disconnect between the comfortable Christians of the West and the persecuted of the Middle East and East

I most certainly do not want this kind of persecution coming our way although it seems to be headed in that direction and could happen sooner than later as our laws are changed to suit the humanist agenda.

If and when we begin to stand up and continue to stand for the Word of God in a ever increasing antagonistic world we need to be prepared for the worst and start living every day under the shadow of the cross, as Blaine puts it.

Being prepared to die for our faith does not mean we lose our joy in Jesus.

God bless,


_________________
William

 2018/5/17 7:12Profile





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