Sunday, September 24, 2006

What a Conference!

Yesterday's annual persecuted church prayer conference here in Mississauga was probably the best one we have ever had. I say that each year, of course, but I truly think that it was true this year. The building was packed out as Christians from across southern Ontario came to hear speakers from around the world talk of the suffering faith and courage of our brothers and sisters in China, Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

We started off the day hearing from Brother Wood, a Chinese evangelist and teacher who works extensively with the underground church in mainland China. What an honour it was to hear how VOMC's support of Christian prisoners and their families through our Legal Defense Fund is such a source of encouragement as they realize that they are not alone in their suffering.
Afterwards, we heard from two Eritrean Christians who had only recently left their homeland after being imprisoned and brutally tortured. One of them demonstrated a particularly brutal form of torture that he had been subjected to for four days called "the helicopter" in which his hands and arms were tied behind his back and he was lifted up in the air from behind. As I untied him from the ropes that he had allowed himself to be tied up with, I struggled not to weep as I thought of the suffering that he had had to endure.

In the afternoon, Brother Joshua showed a PowerPoint presentation of his work in Ethiopia and shared the stories of several churches and individuals that have been brutally persecuted. As I thought of how we had started this work six years ago, I was moved to gratitude that God had opened the door to allow us to minister to these dear saints who have been forgotten by much of the world and neglected even by organizations and missionaries who serve in Ethiopia.

Our conference concluded with a moving challenge from Tom Zurowski of Global Response Network, our partner in southern Sudan who challenged us to hear the cries of those who were martyred during the brutal civil war not to forget their children who are still alive. VOMC partners with GRN in rebuilding the Nugent School in southern Sudan, providing Christian education for children in a region where illiteracy runs at 90% of the population (you can watch a video report on this school on http://www.persecution.tv/). How can the Church grow and be healthy, if its future leaders cannot read and teach the Word of God?

Following each presentation, we spent time in prayer for the believers in these countries and for those who are ministering there on behalf of VOMC. Many of those who attended told me how meaningful these times were. Two years ago, we realized that our conferences needed to be more than just an opportunity to hear testimonies and meet persecuted believers and frontline workers; they needed to be times of ministry and prayer. For our speakers, I know that it meant so much to know that Canadian Christians were standing behind them in prayer. If you attended the conference, please feel free to post your comments.

Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to attend one of our conferences when they are in your area. Our next one is in Calgary on November 4 and in Edmonton on March 24. Go to http://www.persecution.net/conferences.htm for more information.

2 comments:

Kim T said...

Dear Glenn,

I attended for the first time the persecuted prayer conference in Mississauga. My adult daughter, myself and two women from the congregation where we worship drove up from Woodstock Saturday morning. None of us had attended a conference before. We all have been blessed and encouraged and informed and changed by our time at the conference.

We have a sister in Christ who has a blog and unofficially reports on the American VOM. She has a link to the US site on her page. Her goal is get the word out to North American Christians about the persecuted Church and to have family in Christ acting like family in Christ, whereby, we pray fervently and regularly for our brothers and sisters- loving each other in the LORD. She has a VOM prayer room on her blog, too. Anyway, I have sent her several emails about my experience at the conference and what I learned. She has been posting them on her blog and will continue to do so as long as I keep sending.

I hope this encourages you and the staff at VOMC. What a gloriuos God we serve! May His be glorified in His saints. "Blessed be the glory of the LORD from its place." Ezekiel 3:12

In Christ,

Kim Tanaszczuk

Eunice said...

Dear Glenn,
I agree totally with your comments about the conference. Two of us attended last year's conference. This year there were six of us. We can't stop talking about how we were challenged and blessed.