Saul approved of their killing Stephen. That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison. (Acts 8:1-3)
When Jesus commanded his disciples to become Spirit-filled witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), I am sure they were all a bit mystified and concerned at the enormity of the task. But already within the first year after Jesus’ ascension persecution has caused the followers of Jesus to scatter into at least the Samaria part of their mandate.
We may think that persecution is a serious impediment to the growth of the Church. But so often it is recorded in Scriptures and the annals of Church history that persecution mostly results in the strengthening of believers’ and growth of the Church. Present day South Sudan and China are examples of growth in the face of extreme opposition. Iran is probably the most remarkable, more Iranians have become Christians in the past 20 years than in the preceding 13 centuries: It’s a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ.” (from The Gospel Coalition, 30 July 2016 - click here)
I ask that you would keep the people and nation of Iran in your prayers. Please pray for:
Many more Iranians to give their lives to Christ.
Endurance and joy for Iranian Christians suffering in prison for their ministry—many have testified to sensing the prayers of the global church while imprisoned.
More trained leaders to serve as evangelists, church planters, and pastors to disciple the many new Iranian believers.
In November there is usually an international day (Sunday 3rd) set aside for prayer for the persecuted church (https://idop.ca). While we cannot imagine how painful it is to suffer for our faith we can learn to pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted. Should we ask God to remove the source of opposition? If we are going to pray for the conversion of anti-Christian opponents, perhaps that is a better solution. At least we should pray that those who are persecuted are filled with compassion and love for their enemies and continue to bravely witness for Christ.