Prayer Targets: Praying for the Persecuted Church in the United States and Abroad
November 15, 2012
The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action (Dan 11:32 ESV).
Dear Praying Friends,
Acts of religious oppression and persecution are on the increase worldwide, including in the U.S., and with them, a growing disregard for God and the First Amendment. A new Pew Poll shows that 20% of Americans no longer identify with any religion. The boos and split vote by Democratic delegates in Charlotte over putting God and support for Israel back into their party platform are an ominous sign.
Anti-religious groups also seek to silence Christian speech in the public square (e.g., the Freedom from Religion Foundation's effort to strip the Catholic diocese of Wisconsin of its tax exempt status and their IRS complaint regarding Billy Graham's ads calling for voters to vote candidate who would uphold Biblical values). The work of such groups, along with the President's re-election point to a combination of growing ignorance, a lack of fundamental respect, and hostility toward Christians and our religious liberty. Efforts to impose intolerable, conscience crushing laws that violate parental rights, freedom of religion and the most intimate matters of Christian conscience will only accelerate.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed Obamacare, the President has redoubled his commitment to the HHS mandate requiring employers, including religious institutions, to provide free contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacient drugs to their employees via government approved insurance. Colleges and universities, too, regardless of faith, must provide such free coverage to their students. In reaction to the "contraceptive mandate," part of Obamacare, forty groups have filed federal First Amendment lawsuits against HHS. A federal court judge in Missouri has ruled the mandate constitutional. Yet Obamacare remains the law of the land and religious groups have less than one year to comply with the mandate or face draconian fines.
Religious oppression and persecution associated with legalized same-sex "marriage" (SSM) is already underway, and will only increase. Maryland, Maine and Washington state voters affirmed SSM on Election Day. Minnesota rejected a traditional marriage amendment and legislators are acting swiftly to legalize SSM there. Nine states - MD, ME and WA, plus CT, IA, MA, NH, NY, VT and Washington, DC, now allow SSM. While their laws masquerade as religion friendly (pastors are exempted from any requirement to perform same-sex "marriages"), Christian judges and justices of the peace are not exempted. Nor are Christian clerks who must issue "marriage" licenses; notaries who must notarize legal documents, photographers, florists, bakers, wedding venue operators, marriage counselors, lawyers, homeowners who wish to rent out their homes - all of whom will be required to accept, honor and serve same-sex "married" couples without objection - or face lawsuits and fines.
And what about churches? What will your church do when a "married" same-sex couple demands recognition? Have your pastor and church prepared you for such an eventuality? Will you stand on biblical truth? How about you and your family, when your child comes home from school talking about what he or she is being taught? If you as a business owner or employee are told to be complicit in supporting a same-sex "marriage," will you stand for your faith and close your business or ministry, or lose your job? Catholic Charities in Massachusetts closed their 100+ year old adoption ministry rather than comply with the law requiring them to place adoptive children with homosexual couples. These laws are splitting homes, churches, denominations and America, but the worst is ahead. Each of us must decide whether we will obey God or man (Acts 5:29).
The oppression and persecution is already underway. Most Americans have not realized it yet because it has not touched them directly or deeply. True religious conscience will not be changed by a tyrant's command or a majority vote. God's word has not changed. When told to cease preaching in Jesus' name, Peter and John told authorities: "We ought to obey God rather than men!"
Many who read this have already been subjected to the decision of whether to compromise or to stand on your biblical faith. Others will face this decision sooner or later. Expensive and grueling lawsuits, closing our ministries, being subjected to unbearable fines may well be in our future. President Obama and his administration have helped create an atmosphere in which this is all frighteningly possible and maybe even inevitable.
During the first three centuries AD, many thousands of believers were forced to pledge allegiance to Caesar, swearing: "Caesar is Lord" in order to retain their freedom and in some cases, save their lives. Many chose to be torn by lions, to be crucified, or to become human torches rather than compromise their faith (see Hebrews 11). This week, FRC hosted a webcast - Cry of the Martyrs - to highlight religious persecution now taking place around the world. I urge you to watch it HERE. (see also: Perkins - U.S. Takes a Term for the Worse).
- May we stay faithful to God and redouble our devotion to prayer for biblical revival and reformation. As we foresee persecution in America, may we help our brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution in other lands with prayer and financial aid! (2 Kgs 13:17-19; Jer 29:13; Acts 3:19; 1 Cor 4:2)
- May pastors and leaders unite to boldly proclaim God's Word without compromise! May all of us stand for truth and be examples to those around us. May we go forward into the public square, armed with eternal Word of God, the Holy Spirit, boldness and wisdom! May Christians from every race and ethnic group repent, stand together on the truth of God's word, and stand up to the powers that be while there is still time. Together, may we "occupy until the Lord returns." (Lk 19:13; Acts 4:13; 29-31; 17:30; Eph 6:10-20. 2 Tim 4:2-5)
- May God help His Church to shine amid persecution. Whatever comes, may the principalities and powers that seek to destroy the Church and America be defeated, and may God be glorified! (Is 60:1-2; Mt 5:14-16; 2 Cor 10:2-6; 1 Jn 2:18; Rev 12:11)
- May churches unite with Dr. Billy Graham in his unprecedented effort to reach every American with the gospel in November, 2013, with potential to turn our nation around! May America be transformed, not by political pressure and unbiblical mandates, but by change in people's hearts through the Gospel, which enables us to think and act aright. May God save America! (Mt 28:18:20; Mk 8:35; Lk 10:2; 1 Cor 9:16; Col 1:21-23)
May God help our families, friends and fellow believers, to stand! Thank you for praying!