Speaking Hope

Be Strong and Courageous

Be Strong and Courageous

Sunday, November 5 is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Learn more about how God is at work in the Persian-speaking world!

Every year on the first Sunday of November, Christians around the world set aside the day to pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith. The theme for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in 2023 is ‘Courage to Rise Above,’ paying particular attention to Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (ESV). With God’s Word as our authoritative voice, we are told to be strong and courageous. So, how can we pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith? How can we extend courage and assure them that, in their suffering, God’s love is with them wherever they go?

Persian ministry leader Tony connects with callers from the Persian-speaking world who face arrests and attacks for being Christian. Tony encourages these broken spirits with the gospel and invites them to attend conferences. Safely held in neighbouring countries, these conferences are opportunities for people from different cultural, educational and faith backgrounds to come together for spiritual nourishment and fellowship. Attendees may not fully know why they came to the conference (and some of them attend begrudgingly, only because family members asked them to come!), but their showing up serves a purpose in unveiling a glimpse of God’s plan. Each conference paints a part of the picture of how God’s people are interconnected.

As we pray for our brothers and sisters as part of International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, we want to share a story of how one coverless Bible voyaged from a conference to the garbage, then from one man’s hands into the home of another who then attended a conference 18 years later. God’s hope-filled Word connects lives and offers courage where, when and how it’s needed most!

Eighteen years ago, a group of people came to a conference and took Bibles home. But since Christian literature is illegal in the Persian-speaking world, airport officials took the Bibles, ripped the covers off and tossed them in the garbage.

One man, Mr. M, stumbled upon the books in the trash and was intrigued. He took one home and started reading it. The airport officials saw the Bibles as trash, but God used this as an opportunity to continue unfolding his plan and connect broken hearts back together and ultimately to Christ.

Three years later, the son of a friend and his wife visited Mr. M’s home. After dinner one day, Mr. M looked at the wife, took his coverless Bible and said “You should read this book. It is good for you.” She didn't know what it was but started reading it every so often.

Now, this is where the story starts to get even more interesting! Fast forward to three years ago, a woman phoned Tony and asked for help. Tony shared the gospel with her and invited her to a conference. She attended and accepted Christ. Because she never learned to read, Tony shared an audio Bible and devotionals with her. Earlier this year, she brought three of her six adult children to a conference.

Would you believe that one of these daughters was the woman who was given the coverless Bible by Mr. M? She was confused during the conference teaching because she knew parts of what was being taught but didn't understand what was going on. At one point, the teacher asked if anyone had a note to share about God's Word in their lives. She stood up and said, "I have this Book in my home. Now I know what it is. I want to be a Christian. How do I do that?"

Praise God for the ways his plans play out over time! While we may want to see quick results, God’s timing is perfect and intentional.

In this part of the world where it’s dangerous to be Christian, conferences create space for participants to learn, grow, sing and share in a safe environment. Believers also learn and grow through portable media devices such as SD cards, which are loaded with hopeful biblical content and are easy to distribute discretely. Would you join us in praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world? Your prayers and support travel further than you know!

Click here for a downloadable resource on how to pray for the persecuted church!