Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:3).
It was just before dawn on a cold winter morning on the farm. I had just shifted a line of irrigation pipes in a crop of potatoes. My bare feet were encased in congealed, cold, numbing mud. My last task before breakfast was to start the irrigation pump. When I tried to kick start the motorbike my foot slipped off the kick starter and my big toe struck the metal foot peg. I felt nothing at the time but when I arrived at the pump I looked down and noticed lots of blood oozing through the mud on my feet! On closer inspection, I discovered that I had a very deep gash under my big toe. It was a really nasty injury which was surprising! I had not even felt it because my foot was so numb from the cold.
It seems to me that just as I was oblivious to the serious damage done to my body, we can be unaware of the damage that is done daily to the body of Christ.
Every day followers of Jesus around the world are subjected to ridicule, persecution, abuse, torture, abduction and even death. In a recent statement, the International Society for Human Rights said that 80% of all religious freedom violations in the world are directed against Christians. Shockingly, it is estimated that every five minutes a follower of Jesus is put to death somewhere in the world simply because they have faith in Jesus. Some have gone as far as to say that the current levels of persecution against Christians are worse today than at any time in history!
As followers of Jesus, we are spiritually connected to all of the other followers of Jesus around the globe. The Bible describes this union as just like being part of a body (1Co 12:12).
Just as pain from an injury in one part of our physical bodies affects the rest of our body, so to the pain and suffering of one part of our spiritual body should affect the whole in some way. So why don’t we always feel their pain? Perhaps we do not feel the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world because we are numbed by complacency, indifference, apathy or just plain ignorance.
I did not know that there was a problem with my toe until I went looking and noticed some disturbing signs. There are a number of organizations that help us be aware of what is happening for many of our brothers and sisters around the world; organizations such as the Barnabas Fund, the Voice of the Martyrs, or The Open Doors.
When I found out that my foot was injured, I immediately took action to give aid to my injured member. The bible says that we should empathize with our suffering family to the point of actually considering ourselves to be in their shoes.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3).
The following websites can provide specific information about the scope and pain that the body that you and your church are a part of is experiencing worldwide and may assist in providing information as to how we can aid those parts of the body that are hurting.
If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to please make your churches aware of the plight of our brothers and sisters around the world and commit to praying regularly for them.
God do you good!
Rev Stewart Piper, Queensland Baptists