The Courage of Persecuted Believers

By Mary-Sue Leigh

In recent days I have been thinking about courage as it relates to our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. I looked up the definition of courage in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and it defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Even though these words definitely describe persecuted believers worldwide, my thoughts centered on the relationship between their inspiring courage and their faith. I believe the Holy Spirit reiterated to me that persecuted believers can persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty because of their dependence on the Lord. He supernaturally endows them with the strength to endure hardships with joy.

It is hard to imagine whether our persecuted brethren would continually stand for Christ if they depended on their own physical strength during times of persecution. Take for example house church leader Pastor Zhang Mingxuan and his family, who are constantly hounded by the Chinese government. In recent weeks, they have been evicted from their home, constantly harassed and arrested, and yet through it all they praise God and count it all a blessing. In the persecuted believer’s testimonies they always relate how praying during times of persecution helps them deal with the challenges. Praise God for their faithfulness and unwavering trust in the Lord. He has shown Himself faithful, in all circumstances, at all times.

I also remember hundreds of believers in Eritrea who were beaten and imprisoned in shipping containers by the government, because of their faith in Jesus Christ. On August 5, Eritrean authorities locked eight high school students in a metal shipping container and burned hundreds of Bibles at Sawa Defense Training Center. The incident occurred after authorities confiscated 1,500 Bibles from students arriving at the training center for the 2008-2009 school years. Praise the Lord for the courage of these students. I believe they are excellent examples of many believers around the world who are relying on God’s strength and encouragement to withstand persecution.

I encourage you to pray for believers worldwide who are constantly required to show “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” I know our prayers make a difference. Praise God for persecuted believers, whose courage inspires us.

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