Rethinking Persecution: Hope and Courage

I’ve spent almost 10 years focusing on how best to bridge the gap between the persecuted church and the so-called ‘free’ Western church. The idea of persecution is difficult to grasp for many believers in Western nations. But what I’ve discovered is that to focus on the fearful nature of persecution only ever breeds fear within people. It misses the bigger picture.

The persecuted church is so much more than this fear-fuelled and narrow-sighted view, which misses the beauty both of the church and the history of Open Doors’ ministry. The only thing more powerful than fear is hope, and the persecuted church is one of the most hope-filled things on the planet.

It can motivate us, inspire us, humble us, and challenge us. And the beautiful thing about hope is that it breeds courage.

It’s easy to forget that every instance of persecution is linked to a public profession of public outworking of faith. Open Doors exists to serve the persecuted church and yet our goal is not to end persecution. It’s not even to stop persecution from growing because we believe that wherever the gospel is being shared persecution exists.

Persecution is a hallmark of successful and bold Christianity. We do not exist to end it, but to give people the strength and courage they need to stand in the face of it and shine as brightly as they can.

As a ministry, we’ve been encouraging, or rather, enabling courage in the global body of Christ for more than 60 years. Often we view encouragement as simply a way of praising or complimenting others. But it can be so much more than that.

The Greek word in the Bible for ‘encourage’ means to strengthen, to comfort, and to implore. To enable courage. The word appears 105 times in the New Testament. Paul often uses it in his writings to ensure the church remains uni ed.

This typifies the persecuted church. It is united, hope-filled, Jesus-focused, and courageous. In telling stories from, and building our understanding of, the persecuted church and the hope that it represents, not only can we enable courage in others, but so too can we find it in ourselves. A courage that takes our own faith from our private lives to our public lives.

This is the basis of Open Doors’ upcoming One With Them campaign. You cannot support the persecuted church without sharing your own faith with those around you. By donating one day’s wage to the survival of the persecuted church, we want to see Christians across Australia and New Zealand take their faith from their private lives to their public lives, and stand one with their persecuted brothers and sisters.

To stand up and tell those around them that Jesus is worth it. To stand with those suffering for their faith around the world. To enable courage in others and find it in themselves, too. On Wednesday 17 April, you can join a movement and stand One With Them.

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