Hebrews 13:3 NASB says to “Remember those who are in bonds as those you were bound with them and those who suffer in the flesh because you yourself have a body.” It is so easy to forget the persecuted when your life is far removed from the pressure that many other Christians face. When I first started becoming aware of the persecution of Christians around the world, I was given a couple of wristbands that were intended to be reminders to pray for the persecuted. I decided that I would keep them on indefinitely as a reminder of the handcuffs that some of my brothers and sisters would be wearing for many years to come. I did wear them for several years. Just recently, I finally removed one because it had worn so thin. A couple of days later, the other wrist band simply snapped off. This little incident stood out to me. It reminded me of Paul and Silas in the book of Acts when God sent an earthquake and their chains fell from their hands (Acts 16:25-26).
It also reminded me of the many stories of brothers and sisters who were released from prison, unexpectedly, and sent home. What must it feel like to go home after three, four, maybe eight years in prison for the Gospel? I had decided that I wouldn’t replace the wristbands for a while, maybe not at all. It was nice to have normal arms again after years of wristbands, morning, noon and night. It took a while to adjust to the fact that there weren’t wrist bands on my arm. But now, with reluctance, I have replaced my old wristbands with new ones. I don’t want to forget the persecuted. Richard Wurmbrand spent eight and a half years in Communist prisons, enduring torture and starvation before finally being released. After three short years, Richard was re-arrested and sentenced to another 25 years! You must be strong in the Lord to be able to accept release AND re-arrest, knowing exactly what you will be facing. If Richard could do this, I can also wear wristbands again to remember. Some of you will remember that I wrote about Andrew Brunson earlier this spring who is an imprisoned pastor in Turkey. Andrew and his wife Norine are from Black Mountain, NC. Andrew is still imprisoned today. What did you do this summer? Norine spent her summer without her husband. Andrew spent his summer in prison. Did we remember them?
If you would like to learn more about the Persecuted Church you can join us at the Gospel 4 Planet Earth Missions Conference November, 18th @ 5:30pm The Refuge Prayer House 1359 Cane Creek Rd. Fletcher NC.