Encouragement for the persecuted found in “vibrant community”

Asia (MNN) — There’s a reason why when we share stories of persecution, we ask for the Body of Christ to get involved in the solution. It’s because a key ingredient to perseverance of Christians under attack is encouragement from other Christians.

While on the road with Asian Access last week, Ruth Kramer spoke with a pastor from a closed, creative-access country in Asia. The pastor says Christians do face persecution in his country, but it’s not always easy to pinpoint.

Pastor (Photo courtesy of Ruth Kramer)

He says, “It depends on the location area. Nowadays, for most of the big cities, it seems the government, [has slightly] opened the door for churches to do activities. But for most of the churches in the highlands and remote areas, they are still facing persecution.”

For example, he shares the story of a house church in a rural area. The congregation was growing too big to fit into the pastor’s house for Sunday sermons and worship.

“The pastor offered his piece of land for the church, and the church donated money, offered money to build the chapel. Right after they finished building the chapel, the local authority came with policeman and they locked the doors. They made a paper with the promise of the pastor, they are not allowed to use the new building for the church activities or worship services.”

It remains locked to this day. Persecution here is on a spectrum, but what the pastor describes is mostly coming from the legal sector. Sometimes, he says, churches are closed and their leaders are arrested.

But other times, he explains, local authorities leave churches alone. They recognize their good work for the community and aren’t bothered by their activity. But overall, there seems to be a reluctance to let the Church grow here.

“In my opinion,” the pastor says, “they are afraid of the influence of the Church in the communities because as the pastors, when we speak, when we talk, people listen and follow.”

A growing threat

It’s hard to say whether or not things will get better in this country, or worse. But a new law that will take effect the beginning of next year seems to suggest things will get harder. The pastor told us that churches will be required to be licensed.

“In that case, if the church doesn’t have [a] license, they will use the law to oppress the church and stop the church.”

So, from now until the end of the year, churches are scrambling to get licensed so they can continue worshipping together. However, he says some local authorities who dislike the local churches will refuse to hand out licenses.

A vibrant community

Despite the challenges this Church faces, there is still hope. The pastor says Asian Access has been helpful for many spiritual leaders in the country. Before Asian Access, the Church had programs to equip and train pastors, but the ministry has brought them together to redouble the efforts and share resources.

(Image courtesy of Asian Access)

He explains, “Asian Access brings us together as a vibrant community. In this community, we can love each other, and we care for one another, encourage one another, especially during a time of persecution. So we encourage one another and grow together in the faith in Jesus Christ.”

Here’s how to pray:

“Please pray for the Christians in my country to be united. And pray that God will raise up more people, more pastors, more leaders of the Church to lead the Church. And pray for revival.”

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