I’m excited about the theme for this year’s ICOM: “The Away Team.” As a football fan, I know the advantage that the home team usually has during a game: their own fans, their own field, maybe a little edge with the officials. For centuries, the church has been the “home team” in North American culture. We’ve enjoyed privileged status and influence, but now we find those things eroding. Many of us are trying to figure out how to cope with this cultural shift. How do we continue to have voice in our society? How do we handle changes in how the culture views faith, marriage, and the sanctity of life? We’re not used to being the away team.
As I thought about this on Friday, this thought hit me:
The persecuted church has never been the home team.
In the Middle East, northern and central Africa, Indonesia, China, North Korea, India and other places where persecution is the strongest, the church has nearly always been the minority. And now, as has always been the case, the persecuted church isn’t worried about a statue of the Ten Commandments being torn down or a non-believer with a blog making fun of them. They worry about their survival. They worry about the lives of their friends and families. And in some of these places, such as Iraq—where the church has been present since the late first century—they worry that, with their deaths, the faith will die out completely.
We must remember them. We must support them. We must pray for them.
We must do these things because God is at work—refining the faith of the persecuted, strengthening the faith of the suffering, and converting hundreds and thousands to Christ through their example.
This is what Church on Fire is about.
In just a few weeks, churches all across North America will unite to raise awareness and encourage practical support of the persecuted church around the world through this Church on Fire series. As we approach the launch of the series on November 1, please pray for the following:
- For the persecuted church—that God will grant them the strength to endure, and that, somehow, he will let them know that we love them and support them.
- For the persecutors—that God will use the example of the suffering church to draw them to Jesus.
- For the church in North America—that we will see beyond ourselves and not trivialize the suffering of people we cannot see because of the separation of geography and culture, and that we will stand firm with them.
- For the frontline workers who are helping the persecuted church—some of the most dangerous work in the world is being done by aid workers in areas where persecution is the most severe.
- For people coming to our churches who do not yet know Christ, that God will use the examples of the persecuted Christians to draw these people to Jesus.
- For the preachers and church staff preparing for this series, as Church on Fire will be very intense, emotionally draining.
There’s still time for your church to join us. Please go to the links below to join the Church on Fire Facebook group and to download all the materials for the series.
Finally, we’re also having a Church on Fire meet and greet at ICOM. We will be on the first floor in E10D of the Greater Richmond Convention Center from 8:30pm-9:30pm on Friday, October 30th.
Join our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChurchOnFireSeries/
Download Church on Fire materials and resources by clicking here.
Because Jesus lives,
Friends in Fellowship Christian Church, Winterville NC