It is so easy to live in a safe bubble. Just concerning myself with what affects me directly. Telling myself that my “world” of my family, my friends, is the only world that I have time to care about.
Some time ago God burdened me to pray specifically for the persecuted church around the world. Hebrews 13:3 “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” became very personal.
Believers suffering thousands of miles away from me ARE my family. To close my eyes and heart to what is happening in the world was to disobey Christ’s clear command.
Reading through the book of Esther this week, I asked God to give me a fresh perspective. I did not want to just “gloss over” a familiar story.
God is faithful. Uncomfortably faithful.
King Ahashuerus was sheltered in his own world. He was ruled by his emotions, and easily influenced. He made rash decisions that had far-reaching effects. He seemed to be the most motivated by whatever affected him personally.
Esther, first sheltered from certain exploitation as an orphan exile by her uncle Mordecai, becomes a “victim of circumstance” when the king issues his royal cattle call and she is “taken into custody” (see chapter 2) and conscripted for the ultimate “reality show” — Persia’s Next Queen. For the next year she is sheltered in a different way, effectively a prisoner, locked away from contact with the outside world.
Esther is chosen to be the queen. Almost 5 years go by. Esther has once again become sheltered in her cocoon of the king’s palace. So sheltered that she has no idea of the edict to destroy the Jews until Mordecai relays a message to her. She doesn’t know about the national mourning. She doesn’t know about the tumult in Susa.
Esther is willing to be shaken out of her sheltered cocoon. She takes to heart the words that perhaps she was “born for such a time as this” and prays for wisdom in how to utilize her position to intercede for her people.
What is my “such a time as this?” As my health has declined, and my “world” has increasingly become the walls of my home, it is so tempting to become sheltered in only what affects me.
But God’s clear command in Hebrews 13 will not allow such shelter. The world is my concern.
The blessing of technology has helped me to be aware of the needs of the prisoner and the persecuted. And God has convicted me of my unbelief and lack of faith that intercession IS doing something. I am not God. I want to humble myself, ask Him to open my eyes to see where He is working, and join Him there (if you have not read Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God, put it on your must read list).
Now, and for the past several years, my “prayer list” is made up of websites and email updates. Gospel for Asia http://www.gfa.org
Open Doors http://www.opendoorsusa.org
Every Home for Christ http://www.ehc.org
Voice of the Martyrs http://www.persecution.com
Secret Church http://www.secretchurch.org
That is only a few. Mission organizations have websites that give prayer updates. Missionaries have their own websites and Facebook pages. I watch the news. I watch and pray through The broadcast. Letters written to politicians, asking for support of laws defending the “voiceless”–and letters thanking politicians for passing such laws are not nothing.
God, I pray that you would encourage those who are being persecuted for Your Name’s sake. Make them a light in very dark places. Give them hearts to see You. Help other prisoners to see the truth of the gospel and be saved. Save their captors, Lord. You saved the Philippians jailer. You saved Saul of Tarsus. Break these leaders’ hearts to see the plight of their people. Thank you, Father, that your purposes will stand. In the strong name of Jesus I pray,
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