Do you believe in God the Father, creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord and Saviour?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting?
If you answered these with ‘yes’ then you could face discrimination, beatings, imprisonment and death…If you live in one of the 50 countries where Christianity is outlawed.
Chances are, you are not from one of these countries. But remember, there is no difference between us. They believe the very same things you and I do but may suffer immensely because of it.
This could be surprising for those of us who follow Christ in the liberal democracies of the West today. We may be shocked when we hear of the imprisonment and violence against believers in other parts of the world. Or perhaps we simply cannot fathom the reality of it. But the fact remains and Christ does not want us to turn a blind eye.
Think of it this way. If you broke your hand would not your whole body react? You may scream in agony – or whimper stoically. You’d certainly do whatever possible to alleviate the pain and help it to heal. This is, I think, what Paul was getting at in his letter to the Corinthians. He compares the church to a body with different parts. This is often used on a micro-scale in the local church: I am a hand, you are a foot and we both have different roles, callings and ministries, for example. But could this not also be on a macro-scale; the global church as a whole. UK Christians standing alongside fellow believers in North Korea, Coptic Egyptians walking in unity with Assyrian believers in Iraq. Either way, “there should be no division in the body, its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Cor 12:26). Let us, therefore, endeavour to join hands with that which is broken and hurting.
The Prisoners Ministry of Release International – Light in the Darkest Places – exists to help us do that. We see ourselves as a fulcrum between supporters in the UK and Ireland (or wherever else you happen to be reading this!) and our persecuted family worldwide, encouraging you to give towards / pray for and / or write to Christian prisoners and their families, as well as learning lessons of discipleship with them. Through facebook, email and our new blog we aim to keep you informed so do ‘like’, ‘sign-up’ and / or ‘follow’ each of these depending on your social media preferences. We can then trust our shared heavenly Father to use our efforts to strengthen and comfort our brothers and sisters in the darkest places even as He uses them to inspire and encourage us.