The Bible commands believers in Christ to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). More Christians around the world are weeping today than ever before. However, the Western church knows little about the persecution that is taking place. How can they pray if they do not know?
A call to educate
More than a year ago God moved on the heart of Ruth Graham, the daughter of the renowned Billy Graham, to educate congregations in America and give them a better understanding of what is actually happening. She wants Christians here to know how to pray for those being tortured for their faith in Jesus.
“We need to continue to pray for these dear people who put their lives in danger just to read the Bible, worship His name, and share the word about salvation found only in Christ,” Graham said. “We sit in our comfort, wealth, and ease. We worship whenever and wherever we please. We take how blessed we are for granted.”
On September 7 Graham headlined a prayer event, called The Gathering, at East Auburn Baptist Church in Auburn, Maine. About 550 people attended, representing perhaps a dozen area churches. Graham introduced three ministry leaders from ANM partners in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, who told their stories of suffering persecution. Then the missionaries asked attendees to seek God about two prayer requests. Everyone bowed their heads and talked to Jesus. Some wept.
The Christian Civic League of Maine, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the family and Christian values, co-sponsored the event along with East Auburn Baptist Church and ANM.
“One issue the League deals with is religious freedom. It made sense for us to go beyond our borders,” Civic League director Carroll Conley said.
This community prayer gathering certainly made an impact. Even children were moved by the stories, and they prayed with everyone else.
“We didn’t know!” was a common remark after the event.
One volunteer with the event told an ANM representative through tears, “I loved spending this weekend getting to know you all. Thank you for all you do to bring the message and stories to the people. It is so important! Due to this time, I have been forever changed.”
“We didn’t understand that Christian persecution was this bad and widespread,” reflected another attendee. Others said their prayers will be different now that they have heard the stories and the statistics. One person called for more messages and events like this as the key to bringing revival in the United States.
One of the ANM speakers, Beth Weedor from Liberia, may return to Maine to discuss an issue now arising in the state’s legislative agenda: female genital mutilation (FGM). Other area churches may host similar prayer events.
Persecution Sunday: November 4
Ruth Graham Ministries and other organizations will co-sponsor another afternoon of prayer for persecuted Christians in Staunton, Virginia, on Sunday, November 4, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. This is in conjunction with the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, or Persecution Sunday.