As we reach the end of our “Praying Through Persecution” week, you may be asking yourself “What can I do?” or more specifically “What can I do besides donating funds to an organization?” The focus of this week has been on prayer, a proactive step that is more valuable than we typically think. Yet reaching out in specific, intentional ways can be worth more than any amount of money. Below are seven ministries offering things you can do to encourage and care for the persecuted church. These are by no means the only ministries offering these types of resources, but we pray these can be a springboard for you to begin seeking ways to lift up our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Voice of the Martyrs (VOM)
This organization has been at the forefront of ministering to the persecuted church for over 45 years. Established by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was himself imprisoned for his faith for 14 years, this ministry provides comprehensive information and resources for aiding the persecuted church in some of the most dangerous parts of the world.
Two resources of note from VOM:
This resource provides users the ability to write encouraging letters to those in prison for believing the gospel. Each prisoner has a bio detailing the situation involving their imprisonment as well as updates on their sentence, families, and ways you can pray for them. Prisoner Alert simplifies the process and helps users compose messages that can easily be translated into the recipient’s language. It also provides sample letters and information for writing to government officials. Meanwhile, their guidelines provide pertinent information on the safest way to communicate to Christians around the world. At the time this article was written, over 300,000 letters have been sent.
Similar to the Shoeboxes Samaritan’s Purse puts together at Christmas every year; Action Packs are sent to needy families facing persecution for Christ. Each pack includes basic needs such as soap, blankets, and towels. You can have VOM pack it for you, or you can pack it yourself. General items such as clothes and soap may not seem like much, but for those who have very little it can mean life.
Named “e3” after their mission to equip, evangelize, and establish, this ministry has grown from a single pastor to a massive organization working in over 40 countries. e3 Partners provides a wide array of missions opportunities and ministry tools (including the simple and effective “EvangeCube”). They are also some of the folks behind “I Am Second,” an encouraging and transparent interview series featuring speakers, celebrities, and everyday people.
Two resources of note from e3:
Trips are available by region, country, and cause, which is a great resource for those who desire to minister to a specific people group or country. Their focus is heavy on church planting and many of their trips offer opportunities to join in the church planting process. A noteworthy strength of this ministry is the work it does with volunteers from the ground up, offering training, information on the logistics of short-term missions, and resources to begin your journey.
One of the resources highlighted by e3, this ministry challenges believers to set their watches for 8:38 AM and join in praying for persecuted believers around the world. The reason for 8:38 is two-fold. First it is a reminder of the eternal truth of Romans 8:38-39. Second, it is the time when, as Christians in the West end their day, the persecuted church overseas is waking up to face another day. I am a firm believer that praying for individuals at specific times can be very powerful, and the reality that you are joining so many others is awe-inspiring.
Started in Eastern Europe nearly 60 years ago, this ministry offers bases of operation in countries all over the world. Their U.S. branch provides Bible distribution, literacy and job training, social and economic support, and more.
Two resources of note from Open Doors:
The Advocacy department of Open Doors focuses on the governmental side of persecution. They take regular trips overseas to keep track of religious persecution of people, groups, and countries. In this way they provide details and opportunities to sign petitions and write government officials concerning those suffering for Christ. They also provide information on how you can send letters to those facing persecution and specific details on how you can encourage and pray for them.
This program offers training opportunities to equip and inspire believers to support the persecuted church. While this ministry is a bit more involved than short-term missions, this program offers those who have a passion for the persecuted church the ability to go and minister to other Christians with the goal of lifting up the persecuted church.
An international network of advocacy organizations, CSW articulates a Christian rationale for religious freedom, catalyzing individuals to action, and addressing governments and actors in cases of persecution around the world. The CSW website tracks current persecution with news from countries with high incidents of persecution.
Two resources of note from CSW:
The Prayer Calendar from CSW is updated each month and gives a prayer request for a specific incident of persecution for each day of the month. The Prayer Calendar is an excellent prayer guide that can be downloaded, printed, or subscribed to by email for a continuous reminder to pray. The Prayer Wall is a complementary feature on the website that furthers the idea of Christian solidarity by providing a forum for people to post and share their prayers for the persecuted church.
The Connect and Encourage tab on the CSW website equips Christians to write directly to individuals and groups being persecuted. The country-by-country guide lists names and addresses as well as details of each situation and suggestions on what to write, or what should not be written. CSW recommends making writing to the persecuted a regular practice, such as making it a group project, or choosing one or two people to write to each month. The campaign is updated each year, so for the most recent information, check the “Connect and Encourage” banner that scrolls at the top of the homepage.
China Aid was founded by Bob Fu, a one-time student leader in the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 and a Chinese house church pastor persecuted by the government until fleeing to the U.S. as a religious refugee in 1997. (Fu’s story is fully told in the book God’s Double Agent.) China Aid began in 2002 following the announcement of death sentences for five Chinese house church pastors. China Aid’s work began with helping overturn the death sentences of those pastors and has continued working for human rights and religious freedom in China.
Two resources of note from China Aid:
China Aid serves the persecuted primarily in two ways. The first is to encourage the persecuted by writing a letter to a Chinese Christian imprisoned because of his or her faith. Currently, the “Write to the Persecuted” webpage has the names, stories, and mailing addresses of three Christians. Two of them are pastors who have been sentenced to prison terms of 7-15 years.
The second way China Aid works is by applying pressure to the Chinese government when it conducts or ignores injustices against Christians. Participating in this aspect can be done in one of two ways: write a letter to Chinese authorities permitting persecution, or join in petitioning the government to end the persecution of Christians. Keep up with ongoing petition campaigns on the China Aid campaigns website.
International Christian Concern works for advocacy, assistance, and awareness on global persecution. While it describes itself as a bridge between the western church and their suffering brothers and sisters, it also adds, “persecution is not an accident but the normal course of following Jesus.” ICC ministers to the persecuted in many areas and offers opportunities for simple and straightforward involvement.
Two resources of note from International Christian Concern:
Signing up for “Prayer Points” will get a weekly alert on urgent prayer needs sent directly to your inbox. The same information is also posted on the website each week and provides information for detailed and strategic prayers for persecution going on right at the time.
The “Persecution Around the World” map is a great tool to quickly interact with information about where and what type of persecution is taking place around the world. A simple legend explains icons on the map, and clicking each one opens a link to a news headline. While it has less to do with immediate action, the map is a great resource for informing any type of involvement including prayer, letter writing, and other activities.
Another resource with a similar function but from a completely separate organization is World Watch Monitor, a news service focusing exclusively on incidents of persecution of Christians, often unreported by other news sources. Again, taking action may be more effective, and perhaps be prompted, when informed of ongoing events.
Whether you feel called to actually meet the people facing persecution or you have encouraging words to send their way, there are numerous opportunities to step out and do more. In this age of information and technology there is no excuse for saying you do not know how to reach out to others across the globe. That may look very different depending on who and where you are, whether it involves going and doing or funding and sending. The purpose of this article is to encourage you to ask yourself “How does God want me to make an impact?” Pray and ask Him what He would have you do with what you have been blessed with.
We also want to hear from you. Please tell us in the comments about any ministries you may know of that support the persecuted Church, or how you feel led to minister to the persecuted.