One of the unfortunate by-products of living in a wealthy, influential and vast nation is in thinking that what happens here is the only thing that matters. This “geographical arrogance” has also spilled over in the church. It is noticeable when we handle prayer requests. Most of our requests deal only with our own circle of acquaintances. Only occasionally do we hear requests concerning regional or national matters. Almost never do we hear about those from other lands. We might reply that we have our hands full dealing with local issues. But God doesn’t wear blinders. He has children everywhere and is as concerned with a problem in Nigeria as one in America.
I think one of the most beautiful facets of our faith is the tie that binds us to Christians everywhere. Are you aware, for instance, that Manzoor Masih of Lahore, Pakistan, was arrested for preaching Christ, released by the courts, then shot to death by his Muslim accusers? Or that five house church buildings near Wenzhou, China were demolished by Public Security Officials (two of them having more than 1,000 members)? Or that Pastor Ishak Christian, his wife, daughter, niece and a church worker were burned to death as a crowd of three thousand Muslims went on a church burning spree in Situbondo, East Java? By the time order was restored 25 places of Christian worship had been burned in seven cities. The “Suffering Church,” as they have been called, really understands what it means to live for Christ in a hostile environment. But these people are not “foreigners.” They are brothers and sisters who are part of that great family about which we sing, “Blest be the ties that binds our hearts in Christian love…”
Not only would knowledge of these events keep us better informed, it would also inspire us to live boldly for Christ here in our own country. If you would like to know more, one place to start is by writing to “Open Doors USA,” P.O. Box 27001, Santa Ana, CA 92799; or “Voice of the Martyrs,” P.O Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005. They will keep you informed about the Suffering Church and issue regular prayer alerts so that you can call down the power of God upon your brothers and sisters thousands of miles away. Isn’t it great how large our family is!
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship