Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Praying for persecuted children

sl This holiday season I have been thinking particularly of all of the children throughout the world affected by Christian persecution. Partly, perhaps, this has to do with images of children associated with the season—children smiling as they open long-anticipated gifts, sing favourite carols or decorate the tree. I know, however, that this focus mostly has to do with my recent trip to Sri Lanka, where I was privileged to be able to participate in a camp for persecuted children that VOMC helps make possible (through donations to our Families of Martyrs Fund). Here I saw smiles of all kinds as the children learned, worshiped and played together. It was clear that these children connected with each other and learned more about serving their Lord. The pain of being ostracized by classmates, the worry that harm will come to parents preaching Christ—such are the burdens of these young believers. But when they are able to meet with others facing the same hardships, they are reminded that they are not alone. I look forward to sharing more about this special project in one of our upcoming newsletters.

There’s no way we can know the names or hear the testimonies of all of the children around the world going through such trials. Although it may seem like a hackneyed image of silent sorrow, I can’t help put picture some of these believers crying into their pillows. I can see them stressing late into the night about how they might be harassed at school or waiting for a parent out for a pastor's visit to return home.

But even if we don’t know all of their names, such children don’t have to slip off the periphery of our prayers. So as we head into the holidays, please join me in praying for children affected by persecuted—both those whose stories have been heard and those whose testimonies are not well known. Pray for those who...

...have lost parents in anti-Christian violence, such as those left fatherless or motherless by the ongoing attacks in Orissa state, India.

…are caught up in legal battles related to anti-Christian opposition, such as the 3-year-old Egyptian girl who is separated from her Christian mother because of a custody fight with her Muslim father.

…are facing ridicule, intimidation, or even violence from classmates, teachers or others for their faith in Christ.

…must deal with the emotional scars and challenges created by the sexual assault they suffered because of their Christian identity, such as the pastor’s daughter who was gang-raped by Muslims in Bangladesh in May.

…are without such necessities as proper food or good clothing (let alone Christmas gifts) because, as members of the Christian minority, their families are among the poorest in the country.

May these young ones and their parents take comfort in the Lord’s sovereign care, both in this time of Christmas celebration and as they serve Him in their daily lives.

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