Reflecting Thankfulness

"Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today."
Martin Rinkart

Now Thank We All Our God is a beautiful hymn often sung during a traditional Thanksgiving Day service. The lyrics of this classic remind us that in this world, there are numerous occasions to express a heart of gratitude to our Lord. Such joy should not be limited to one day of the year where, with family and friends, we recount the Lord's gracious provisions. Every day, our lives must reflect an attitude of thankfulness, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

Prayers for the Persecuted

By Matthew Giesbrecht

Each year in November, believers around the world participate in special services that focus on praying for the persecuted church. This year's International Day of Prayer (IDOP) presents us with yet another opportunity to intercede on behalf of the estimated 245 million believers around the world who are experiencing some form of persecution due to their faith.

A noteworthy understanding derived from each year's IDOP services is that the persecuted Christians being represented typically don't request prayer for their persecution to end or be avoided. Rather those being persecuted for the name of Christ make a point of rejoicing in times of suffering, and their prayer requests mainly focus on their country's current affairs and the resulting implications on fellow local believers. Even so, we should keep in mind whenever interceding for the prayer needs of the world's persecuted Christians that some important generic elements ought to be impressed on the hearts of all who pledge allegiance to Christ. This IDOP message attempts to present these needs in what I've called, Prayers for the Persecuted, which are all founded on the hope referenced by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:9-11 (NIVUK):

Fulfilling the Great Commission

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in
heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore
and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching
them to observe all that I have commanded you. And
behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'"
~ Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

The Voice of the Martyrs Canada's first purpose is to encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission. When our founders, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, pleaded for Western Christians to remember the suffering church by providing tools to accomplish the work of the Lord in environments of hostility and oppression, the Great Commission was foremost on their minds.

Paying the Price to Reap

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and
profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
and for training in righteousness, that the man of God
may be complete, equipped for every good work."

~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Vietnam is one of the few remaining Communist nations in the world. Christians are considered a threat to the country's traditional religious practices and cultural identity. A backlash of discrimination, intimidation, property destruction, detentions, beatings, and forced renunciations of faith, are deployed as a means to diminish the church in Vietnam.

Christian activity outside of the church is met with stiff opposition, making evangelism difficult. There is also a shortage of Bibles in Vietnam, leaving many rural believers without direct access to God's Word. The rise of cult leaders throughout the country has been a considerable challenge for the church, as many are led astray by their false teachings. Despite these trials, the church continues to grow as it proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Glorious Light! God's Faithfulness in a World of Oppressive Darkness

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing
worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered
the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may
gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of
my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through
faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith --
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and
may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by
any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."

~ Philippians 3:8-11 ESV

The Christian's acknowledgment of Jesus' Lordship, and the working out of His commandments, marshals the world's animosity. While this hatred is manifested in alarming ways, the ultimate testimony shining through is God's faithfulness amid great suffering. So, while our persecuted brothers and sisters may not fully grasp the motives behind their persecution, they do find comfort and reassurance that they are worthy of sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

Buried Deep but Not Hidden

The Voice of the Martyrs Canada has established seven purposes that guide our ministry activities. One purpose we seek to attain is giving a voice to those Christians whose cries of pain and proclamation of praise go unheard. We accomplish this by sharing their testimonies of suffering and worship.

A Somali Christian ministry recently emailed me a poem which poignantly demonstrates the heart-wrenching troubles a convert to Christianity bears at the hands of those who are closest to them. Here is the poem sent by that particular ministry for the encouragement of a Somali convert: