17 December 2014
In the midst of the tears we lift up God’s name
A Release International worker speaks to us about his passion for encouraging persecuted Christians to remain firm and stand strong in God.
Anonymous due to security reasons.
What inspires you?
The foundation of our work at Release International was inspired by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand who endured a total of 14 years' imprisonment, often in solitary confinement, at the hands of the Communist regime in his native Romania. After his release Richard discovered that Christians in the 'free West' had been praying for him, and these fellow Christians later brought him Bibles and other Christian material to use in the underground Church. To Richard these loving and supportive believers 'were like angels sent from God!', and he wrote in his book Tortured for Christ: 'It was not only that they gave us the word of God, but we saw that we were beloved'.
Personally I didn't know that much about religious persecution, but when I visited Pakistan and saw the struggles and difficulties, but also the love that Christians there have, my heart went out to them. I now have a deeper love and passion for persecuted Christians and a burning desire to minster to them and encourage them, lifting them up and pointing them to the Lord.
What does your work at Release International involve?
At Release International we serve the persecuted Church by supporting and ministering to persecuted Christians.
I have been a development manager at Release since 2006, which involves travelling across the UK to speak in churches about the persecuted Church, particularly focusing on Pakistan where I am from. I go to Pakistan two to three times a year and work with Release partners there ministering to them. I have travelled to Pakistan with 23 different groups and a total of 52 people.
When I visit it is important to remind people that they are not alone and that God is their healer, rock, strength and hope. I also remind them that one day there will be no more tears or sorrow. I focus a lot on God's character as our defender and how he loves us and holds us in his hand. I pray for them and encourage them to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and not grow weary or lose heart.
Are there any particular experiences that stick in your mind?
I was in Pakistan several years ago when seven Christians were burnt alive. I went with their relatives to visit the house where they had been burnt. We held hands together and cried and prayed to God. In the midst of the tears we were lifting up the name of God. We threw petals from a garland of flowers on the floor, covering the black ash with red petals. This was a very hard experience.
What have you learnt from spending time with persecuted Christians?
I have found their faith amazing. In the midst of struggles and difficulties, Christians who are persecuted still pray and know that God is their only hope. They may feel angry, but still they press on and seek God's face. I have been challenged by their spirituality, which makes me look at my life and assess how real God is to me.
Do you think that things will improve?
It is hard to believe that things will improve for Christians in Pakistan unless the blasphemy law changes and also the heart of man changes. We mustn't be surprised at persecution and we must continue to seek to love God. Jesus himself said that we will have troubles (John 16:33), and Paul said in his letter to Timothy that we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).
Why should Christians care about persecution?
God has called us to love one another, and Hebrews 13:3 tells us: "Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
Christians facing persecution across the world really need our love and care, encouraging them to remain firm and stand strong in God. We have an obligation here in the UK to support them through prayer and also practically and financially.
They can also inspire us about the need to stay focused on God and not allow anything to deter our relationship with him.
find out more
If you are interested in having a speaker from Release International attend your service or event, visit the Release website.
Release International is a member of the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC), a commission of the Evangelical Alliance that brings organisations working on behalf of persecuted Christians together to speak with one voice. Find out more about the RLC.