I got the book “Jesus Freaks” by DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs quite a while back…maybe eighth grade? I read it straight off and can still remember the emotions running through me like it was yesterday. Between anger, helplessness, guilt, love, brokenness, and being purely awe-struck, this book hit me hard.
“Jesus Freaks” is a book of stories–TRUE stories–of people who stand for Jesus, no matter where they are or what the rules are. This accounts for just a small fraction of those who are proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in places where it is illegal.
I’m talking about the persecuted church.
My heart has always had a special place for the people who are risking their lives for Jesus. Isaiah 61:1-3a states so profoundly the hearts of the people who carry this message around the world:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”
This is such a great passage and I refer back to it often. It’s SO easy to forget or just push away the thought that everyday people are being tortured and killed for telling someone about Jesus. I want to bring awareness to that. While I sit in class and don’t say a word to the person right beside me because I’m scared she may think I’m weird, a guy in North Korea is using every chance he can to invite people to the secret service at midnight that night. Because that’s what we are called to do, even though by doing so this guy is risking his life. This doesn’t mean everyone should go to these places right now; we can’t all be the arms in the body of Christ. What I am hoping you will get from this is simply knowledge. Remember that there are martyrs and Jesus Freaks across the globe, and pray for them. Do research. The non-profit organization, Voice of the Martyrs has a great, informative website where you can learn more about them and how they are active in encouraging, loving, and making known the persecuted church. You can download the “Prayer Calendar” app and pray for the persecuted everyday of the year in specific ways. If you haven’t been exposed to the stories of martyrs, go buy “Jesus Freaks” (for super cheap here) and read it. And finally, never ever take for granted the huge opportunities we have to worship freely and tell people about Jesus here in America. We have so much more power than we realize through Christ living where we do.
Hebrews 13:3 (CEV) says, “Remember the Lord’s people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don’t forget those who are suffering, but IMAGINE that you are there with them.” I know I fail to do all these things daily, but I want to change that, and I hope you do too.