Imagine your pastor has been imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. Or perhaps your church building has been vandalised – or destroyed – by hostile government forces or religious extremists. Maybe you and your family have been threatened or intimidated, simply because you are Christians.
What would you do? What would you want other Christians to do if they heard about your suffering?
The Apostle Paul wrote of the Body of Christ: “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV). Is that true? If so, how do we express that today?
Release International is a ministry from, to and within that one Body of Christ, and is active in more than 25 countries around the world. In those countries Release works through trusted Christian partners to support, care for, equip and pray with those who suffer persecution for Christ and the Gospel.
In the current edition of Release’s magazine, Voice, you can read, for example, of how Christians in Pakistan continue to face discrimination, persecution and imprisonment for their active faith and ministry. But you’ll also see one of Release’s partners coming alongside those who suffer, to care for and to support them. You can read about what it is like to be a faithful Christian today in North Korea, Iran and Eritrea.
Persecution challenges our faith. Like all forms of suffering, it may prompt us to ask: “Why, Lord?” “Why didn’t you prevent that?” We may not have simple answers, but we do believe and trust in a God who is sovereign over all things.
The Bible teaches us that God is working out His purposes – and will not be thwarted. The Psalmists often wrestle with suffering generally – and opposition, in particular – and find it drawing them to that sovereign God in prayer.
And so, Release seeks not only to raise the voice of persecuted Christians – and to ask you to support them – but also calls you into a meaningful fellowship with those who suffer for their faith; that, with them, you may learn lessons of Christian discipleship.
As the writer of Hebrews puts it: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).