SIT REPORT: PERSEVERANCE (In the Midst of Suffering and Persecution)

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Dear Friends,

It will happen, and is happening today. In fact, it has happened from the very beginning of mankind. Believers have suffered, have been persecuted, and have been martyred for being faithful witnesses and followers of the Almighty God. And yet, the children of God have continued to persevere and grow. If you are under any illusions that you can to some degree escape paying a price for your decision to follow Jesus, then read these verses:

Jesus: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad, because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way” (Matthew 5:10 – 12 NET).

Peter: Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you” (1 Peter 4:12 – 14 NET).

Paul: Now in fact all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 NET).

John: Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given. They cried out with a loud voice, How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been” (Rev. 6:9 – 11 NET).

I have underlined in these few verses why persecution of believers most times occurs. It all centers around:

The persecution of Christians is not relegated to one culture, country, or period of history. Rather, it is a worldwide phenomenon that will increase in frequency and intensity as we draw closer to the return of Christ at the end of this age. All true believers in Jesus will experience it at some time in their lives and in varying degrees of severity. Presently, the greatest amount of persecution — but not exclusively — is being experienced outside of the Western Church, and centered in Asia as a whole, the Middle East, Africa, and Central/​South America.

The national churches that Empower is aligned with in ministry have gained valuable lessons and insights from personal experience into the matter of suffering, hardships, discrimination, imprisonment, and martyrdom for following Christ. Here are a few teachings that they have shared with me which put persecution into perspective:

Persecution is inevitable when people receive Christ in large numbers. This is because Satan will not just sit back and watch the Body of Christ expand without any pushback by the forces of evil. Therefore, because we are experiencing incredible success in the Kingdom’, we have adopted this saying: Persecution…Good (because this is a sign of successful growth) … Just not enjoyable.”

Persecution is inevitable when people receive Christ in large numbers. This is because Satan will not just sit back and watch the Body of Christ expand without any pushback by the forces of evil. Therefore, because we are experiencing incredible success in the Kingdom’, we have adopted this saying: Persecution…Good (because this is a sign of successful growth) … Just not enjoyable.

A year ago, in a certain Arabic speaking country in the Middle East, one of the national evangelists that Empower supported from another nearby country, was arrested, and put in jail for preaching the Gospel. He spent seven hard months in prison. Upon his release he had no money and nowhere to go, so he started to work for an Arab couple, who followed the majority religion of the region, in their home as a servant. He clearly observed that the wife was very sick (with late-stage bone cancer). She was dying. He approached her and boldly said that he believed God wanted to do something and asked permission to pray over her in the Name of Jesus for healing. She was taken aback but desperate as she was, agreed. That night as she was sleeping, she had a vision and heard a voice telling her to turn on her right side. She did and felt a warmth flow from her feet to her head. Then the voice said to turn on her other side and the same thing happened. When she awoke, she had absolutely no pain. She went to a nearby clinic and they found no cancer. She went to another one that confirmed she was cancer free. Then, after two weeks, she went to her own doctor, and he did tests. No cancer whatsoever! Her entire family and the community members who were expecting her to die were amazed at what had transpired through prayer in Jesus’ Name. A church has now been planted there and is growing.

Bottom Line: Jesus does know what He is doing, and a large group of people entered into eternal salvation through the imprisonment, persecution and suffering of a willing bondservant.

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