Tag Archives: prayer

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

 

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If one member suffers, we all suffer together, if one member is honored, all rejoice together. –I Corinthians 12:26

Over 100 million Christians worldwide face persecution for their faith in Christ, and the numbers are on the rise. In countries such as Eritrea, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Sudan and Sri Lanka, Christians face daily threats of imprisonment, violence, destruction of church buildings and even death. No matter what the physical outcome, when Christians are stripped of their ability to follow Christ in safety and freedom, we all suffer together.

Freedom of religion in the U.S. allows us the opportunity to stand in the gap on behalf of our brothers and sisters who face persecution because of Christ. Join us in prayer! During this coming weekend’s services (October 29th & 30th), we will have a table set up in the mall to bring awareness for this international event.

During the weekend of November 5th and 6th, please pray for protection and that the persecuted church will see God in deeper ways. Also, pray for God to soften the hearts of those who persecute Christians.

For more information, visit the table in the mall this weekend or go to: http://www.persecution.com/ or https://www.opendoorsusa.org/

Let’s Pray for the Persecuted Church

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If you were around this past weekend, you likely noticed the large photos and the accompanying statistics about how different countries in our world are currently treating Christians. And in case you didn’t already notice the similarities with the current sermon series about the early Church in the book of Acts, Pastor Jeff Lucas led the congregation in a time of concentrated prayer for our fellow believers around the world.

This coming Sunday, November 1, 2015, is designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. During the weekend, there will be a table in the mall with more information and resources about current situations as well as prayer guides to assist you in continuing to pray throughout the year. In addition to praying at home or corporately in a service, the prayer room is always available if you want to stop in before or after services or during the week. (The prayer room is located along the north-east perimeter of the main sanctuary across the hall from the newly remodeled Youth Center.)

Here are a few prayer points for the Persecuted Church from Ephesians:

  • Pray persecuted believers would know the hope God gives (Eph. 1:8).
  • Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen them (Eph. 3:16).
  • Pray persecuted believers would know how much God loves them (Eph. 3:17).
  • Pray they would know how to share the gospel (Eph. 6:19).
  • Pray persecuted believers would fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Eph. 6:20).

Also pray for their practical needs:

  • Please pray persecuted believers would have access to a Bible.
  • Pray they have the courage to remain in their homeland.
  • Please pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian “family” who loves them and supports them emotionally and physically.
  • Pray for God to be an advocate for women who are socially vulnerable or have lost the custody of their children because of their faith.
  • Please pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live.

To Finish The Work: A Few More Stories of Praying, Giving, and Going

Guatemala Construction trip 2014

Guatemala 2014

As we highlighted during Missions Week, finishing the work God called us to involves praying, giving, and going. Here are a few more stories.

Pray:

“I have prayed for missionaries through the years. I don’t know that I have ever followed any kind of a routine, but have always prayed as they came to my mind. Also, if I knew of a specific need that a missionary had, I took that to God on a regular basis.” ~ Melody Fred

“I am not very systematic about my praying for missions or missionaries. I often pray when I receive a communication from a missionary (letter, email, Facebook, text, etc.). We have pictures of some of our missionary friends on our refrigerator and so that reminds me to pray.” ~ Bob Elsheimer

“How often do I pray for missions? Not as often as I should. I usually gather the monthly prayer letters that we get from our friends who are missionaries and I prayfor them. I also use the newspaper to pray for countries and world leaders, asking God to open doors for the gospel and open the hearts of the people.” ~ Marianne Elsheimer

El Salvador 2014

El Salvador 2014

Give:

“We started giving to missions in about 2007 and write a check each month. Reading emails and articles of how the missionaries are doing and how they are changing lives is very fulfilling to be part of what they are doing.” ~ Anonymous

“I don’t remember when I started giving specifically to missions. I usually budget some money for an offering, something related to missions as the need arises. I often give to my friends’ mission trips as a way to show my support to them.” ~ Anonymous

“I have never been on full time support as a missionary. However, for short term trips I have sent out letters and made presentations in order to raise support. It was an adventure to see how God would raise the money. I have always believed that if God wants something to happen then He will provide the resources to make it happen.” ~ Bob Elsheimer

Peru 2014

Peru 2014

Go: Bob Elsheimer

From Bob – My parents were heavily involved in world missions and in service through the church. We often had missionaries stay at our home overnight and I remember being caught up in their stories and the excitement of their lives. As a teen I read books by Nicky Cruz, Bruce Olson, or Don Richardson. In college, I began to work regularly with kids in the Chicago housing projects, was discipled by on-campus ministry staff, and attended a missions conference which challenged me to be involved in missions even while working at a secular career.

I went on my first short term missions trip overseas in my sophomore year of college and was part of a team sent to a remote area of Honduras to rebuild houses destroyed in a tropical storm and the resulting flooding. Since college, I have continued to seek opportunities to serve (primarily with children) and support missions.  My wife and I have served on a missions committee at a church in California and have many friends who are missionaries.

Any time I have gone on a missions trip, my interest has come from multiple sources.  One large factor is a personal tie to others going on the trip or the missionaries that we will be working with. Another factor is whether the type of ministry matches up to my passions and skills (working with kids for example). Yet, on all of the trips, God has taught me lessons and my perspectives about people and the world changed. Outside of the United States, I am always amazed at the openness of people to Jesus and the simple things that can be done to minister to people. When working with kids in the United States it is often challenging and I often learn lessons in how to reach their hearts or love them.

Hillcrest 2014

Hillcrest 2014

Go: Marianne Elsheimer

From Marianne – In the summer of 1979, during college, I had the opportunity to spend the summer in the Philippines. God used several verses to lead me in making the decision to go, but the ones that stood out the most were Matthew 9:36-38 about the harvest being plentiful, but the workers being few. I knew that God was calling me to be involved in missions. I knew a lot of people who were missionaries and I loved hearing stories about how God was changing peoples’ lives through the gospel.

It wasn’t really hard to take that first step in going to the Philippines but I do remember my parents being disappointed with that decision and also my decision to come on staff with Cru. I had to trust God and the more I took steps towards missions, the more I saw God open doors. There was a peace in knowing I was doing what God had called me to do.

Some of the high school kids at church have told me that they are thinking about taking a short term or  summer missions trip but that it costs too much and their parents would never pay for it. I encourage them to trust God and raise the money instead of asking their parents for the money. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. The problem has never been lack of money but lack of people going. To anyone who is even thinking about taking a missions trip, I would encourage them to go and to be ready for an adventure that will change their life.

Uganda 2014

Uganda 2014

Go: Melody Fred

From Melody – What sparked my interest in missions? I first met Gwen Kovac when I was 13. She spoke of various missions assignments she had been on and I found those conversations very interesting. Gwen spoke Spanish fluently, just like my cousin Doug who had traveled to several Spanish speaking countries. Because of their influence, I also studied Spanish and eventually went on several short-term missions assignments.

I have been on two different teams from Timberline Church. In fact, these were the first two missions trip Timberline was a part of back in the days before we had a Missions Pastor. I went on those trips to help translate. On one of them, I was the one who became the interpreter for the Church Service. Since that was my first time, I was very thankful for people’s prayers.

I also went on three short-term missions assignments, the first two as a single woman and the last with my husband. I spent a year in Paraguay from 1984 to 1985, six months in Mexico in 1988, and then a year in Argentina in 1991 to 1992. On these assignments, people’s prayers meant a lot to me. When you are in another country for an extended period of time, you never know what you will face: spiritual issues, political issues, health issues,  or financial issues. We knew when we sent out our monthly letters that there were people praying for us and the needs that we shared.

To Finish The Work: More Stories of Praying, Giving, and Going

claire in action

As we are highlighting during Missions Week (going on right now!), finishing the work God called us to involves praying, giving, and going. Here are a few more stories.

Pray:

“I pray for missionaries or missions as it comes to mind, and it is usually pretty short. I do have a poster in my room that sometimes reminds me to pray for persecuted nations (but that is only once in a while). When I can, I prefer praying with other people for missionaries. When people send their blog or I read the monthly list, I pray as I read.” ~ Hannah Mullaney

“It makes a huge difference to know people are praying for me! I think that revival starts with prayer. Also, it helped me feel supported, like when I was prayed for multiple times before going to Guatemala. One specific example was when a pastor as he prayed said ‘Hannah is obeying God, going where He wants her to go.’ When there were times of insecurity and I doubted myself, that prayer reminded me that what I was doing was good.” ~ Hannah Mullaney

hannah guatemala

Give:

“When I was a young single mother of two boys, special friends of mine took their young family to Kenya. I was so impressed by their willingness to go that I felt called to support them financially even though it would be a hardship for me. I was so blessed to receive their monthly newsletter. They reminded me often that even a small contribution can bring joy to so many. My call to those what don’t have much money is to give what you can. Every little bit helps!” ~ Anonymous

“I first started giving to Missions as a young adult and have made faith promises in the past. Today I give to various local and foreign missions organizations. I give online at Timberline and directly to other specific ministries. While have never specifically asked where the money was used, we receive newsletters from individuals we have sponsored or hear from them when they are home.” ~ Anonymous

“When people gave to me, it showed so much support, no matter how much it was. I accepted each gift as a miracle, thanking God for what He was doing and His provision. At times people have blessed me financially in unexpected ways by giving money for my ‘ministry with kids’ including once after I got back from Guatemala. I’m holding on to that money, knowing that God has plans down the road that I don’t even know about yet.” ~ Hannah Mullaney

Hannah 2

Go: Hannah Mullaney (former and current Timberline Ambassador)

From Hannah – I have been so blessed to have experienced missions in a couple of different contexts. Ever since I was little, missions has been important to me. I remember in 5th grade at my Christian school, we spent a long time talking about the 10-40 window. It shocked me how many people didn’t know Jesus. My parents have always been supportive of missions as well. Growing up, I have served at Timberline Church in a variety of ways, especially among the children as a JOY Team captain and Sports Week coach. My first mission trip was as a freshman in high school in Peru.

Then, from January to May 2013, during a gap year between high school and college, I lived in Guatemala with other Timberline Ambassadors and worked with orphans. I had questioned what I should do during that gap year, but God made it clear through His Word and then so many doors opened WIDE. Taking the actual step was not too difficult, even though some of the logistics weren’t figured out until a week before my departure. I had few expectations or fears before going, simply because I had no idea what to expect. Being an 18-year-old super willing to try new things, I was up for the experience. During the process and preparation, I learned a lot about receiving. While I was there, I started to learn how to die to myself because I just couldn’t love people the way Jesus did with my own strength and power. (I’m still learning what it means to abide in Jesus, trust in Him, and just let things go!) Even though I was there for a short time, I tried to make the most of the relationships I built, got to experience amazing examples of true love and gratefulness, and saw God’s hand at work.

hannah intervarsity Southside

Now I am doing real live missions right here in Fort Collins! I am a student leader with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, reaching students at Colorado State University. It was during an outreach event that it really clicked for me. I only have four years here. There are friends right around me who have not experienced the joy and love and life-change of the Gospel. What better way to spend my time as a student? I need to be intentional. In particular, I want to reach Latino students here so that we can experience the power of the Gospel for ourselves and apply it among our family and friends.

What would I say to someone thinking about going? Let God love you through this experience, and as you experience His love (no matter how qualified or under qualified you feel), share that love and hope with others. Tell others your story. In a more concrete way, be open to letting God to speak to you through His Word, other people, worship music, circumstances, and other ways. If you think God is leading you to do something, pray about it, talk to others, and then take steps of faith. It is okay to ask God questions! When we are open and give God space to work in our lives, He will. Stay obedient, stay open, and enjoy the ride.

phyllis kovac

Go: Phyllis Kovac

(Note: Phyllis is missionary Gwen Kovac’s mother. Phyllis was 87 years old in this picture taken during her last trip to the jungle where Gwen worked in 2007.)

From Phyllis – Many years ago I had the privilege to go on some Mission Trips with Timberline Church. The first few times we went to Guatemala. We were taken to the airport from the church. There is no feeling like going with a group of people to a foreign country where you have never been before. You are so happy to be doing something you knew was for God. When you arrived in Guatemala, where the people all spoke a language you knew nothing about, and everything was so different, but you were there in service to the Lord. How exciting! We ate different foods, the water we drank was different, but you soon learned what to do and what not to do. And you became acquainted with those dear people that you loved so dearly and just did everything you could do to help.

My specific part was fitting glasses for people who needed them. We just all worked together to make life better for those who were so in need. When they had church services and everyone sang those beautiful songs, it just sent shivers up your backbone! I don’t think you could ever put aside wanting to help missionaries so they can stay on the field to win these dear people to the Lord.

claire and phil

Go: Claire Smith (and her husband Phil have been on many medical missions trips with Timberline Church)

From Claire – I first became interested in missions as a child when missionaries came to my little country church in Illinois.  I thought they were so brave and dreamed of being a nurse in a foreign country when I grew up. Fast forward to 2004 and my husband and I were part of a medical team going to serve the people of China. I was a short term missionary going into the unknown to serve where God leads. Scared? Yes, yet excited, because I was living out a childhood dream of being a missionary in a foreign country.

Over the last 14 years, God has called my husband and me to serve in Africa, Cambodia, Peru, Guatemala and many more trips to China. To those who are hesitant about joining a mission team, God calls each of us to share His heart through our smiles and helping hands. Don’t worry about having the necessary skill set, just pray, give and go as you feel the Lord call you. He will provide.

To Finish The Work: Pray

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(By Guest Blogger Dick DeCook, Love Reaches Prayer Team Coordinator)

No appointment needed. No invitation required. That’s the beauty of prayer. As Paul said in Ephesians 3:12, “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” We can draw near to the very throne of God Himself. God’s door is always open for us to approach Him, praise Him, tell Him we love Him, express our needs, and petition Him on behalf of others and ourselves.

Of course, prayers for family, friends, and ourselves are always a top priority, but I am also very concerned about praying for the unity of the body of Christ, our deeply committed missionaries, and our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ world-wide.

As we approach Missions Celebration, why should we pray for our missionaries? Have you ever thought deeply about what it means to be called by God to be a missionary? It means making a commitment to be All In. In many cases leaving family and loved ones, learning a new language, learning about a new country and culture, and building a prayer team not to mention working to raise a lot of financial support. That can seem overwhelming, but that’s what missionaries are called to do.

So, we as their brothers and sisters in Christ, are called to pray for them as often as we can. I believe a missionary’s prayer covering is the most important aspect of their work. Without continual prayer lifted to the Father for His guidance and direction, love for those being reached out to, and personal health and safety, a missionary doesn’t stand much of a chance.

We echo Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus as we pray for those laboring on the mission field: “I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you in power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

At Timberline Church, we receive regular newsletter updates via mail and email. A faithful volunteer extracts the needs from these newsletters and compiles a monthly list of prayer requests from the missionaries that the members of Timberline Church support as well as other missionaries. That monthly list of Prayer Requests is prayed over on the first Thursday of each month. That is why I’d like to invite you to come to the Timberline Prayer Room at 12:30, Thursday, March 5 to pray for our missionaries.

If you’re not able to come to the prayer meeting and you would still like to pray for the specific prayer requests, we are happy to add you to our email list and you can pray at home. Just send me your email address at: ddecook@comcast.net and explain you would like to pray monthly for our missionaries.

To finish the work, we need to pray.

Join Us In Praying For the Persecuted Church

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With the recent headlines out of Iraq and Syria, we are reminded again of the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters that has been going on since the book of Acts. In fact, current figures estimate that 100,000 people per year are killed because of their faith. The headlines shouldn’t be such a surprise since Jesus warned His followers that in the end days, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9 NIV)

Yet in the middle of persecution, there is hope for the Persecuted Church because they are not alone in their suffering. Like the Fourth Man in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo, Jesus is personally acquainted with unjust punishment and a cruel death … and intercedes to the Father on behalf of all believers. Paul, a former persecutor, was also personally acquainted with persecution (stonings, beatings, jail, mobs, etc.) and encouraged other believers saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV) He believed the difficulties he faced were minor in light of eternity with Christ.

The author of Hebrews challenged the rest of the believers (including us!) to “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.” (Hebrews 13:3 NIV) So, while we wait for Christ’s victorious return and justice to prevail, what can we do?

1. Stop by the table in the Timberline Church mall over the next month to get more information about organizations that spread awareness or provide practical care and support for displaced Christians. Find out how to financially support those in position to provide aid to the thousands and thousands of religious refugees in multiple countries. You can even pick up a bracelet to serve as a visual prayer reminder and conversation starter.

2. If you are on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, you may have noticed others changing their profile picture to the Arabic letter “N” (for the word “Nazrani” or Nazarene, meaning Christian in Arabic) as an expression of solidarity that you stand with the Christian being persecuted in the Middle East. Stories out of Iraq reveal this letter being painted on the homes of Christians who are given 24-hours to convert, pay a huge fine, or die. Thousands have fled their homes after being identified as a Christian and this symbol can be reclaimed as a badge of honor saying we are proud to be known as Christians.

3. Pray. For their safety and divine deliverance. For provision in times of need and for others to come alongside them with help. For strength to persevere under pressure and remain faithful to Christ in the face of horrific actions. For the enemy’s camp to be thrown into confusion. For those persecuting them to see Jesus, just like Saul/Paul did on the road to Damascus. For unity in the Body of Christ to be a light shining on the hill in the face of increasing darkness.

4. Speak up. Perhaps you feel led to contact our government officials and encourage them to take a stand on behalf of those whose voice is being silenced. Use the current events as a launch pad to start conversations with others where discussions about ISIS in Iraq can lead to bigger topics like God’s plan for the world, the issue of suffering, and the only true solution found in Christ’s redeeming blood.

Pray For The Persecuted Church

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10

When Jesus sent His disciples into the world to preach the gospel, He warned that it would not be easy. They would be like sheep among wolves, others would hand them over to the local governments to be flogged, their families would reject them and have them killed, and they would be hated for His name’s sake. (See Matthew 10:16-23 for starters.). Jesus said, “Go!” and they went. History tells us they faced every bit of persecution Jesus warned about.

Christians still face persecution today in many countries around the world including intimidation, threats, economic discrimination, kidnapping, beatings, imprisonment, torture, and death. By one estimate, over 100,000 Christians are martyred annually. That’s over 8000 per month or 275 per day. (2011 Report, “Christianity 2011: Martyrs and the Resurgence of Religion,” compiled by Todd M. Johnson, David. B Barrett and Peter F. Crossing)

What can you do?
1. Pray for those who are being persecuted. This Sunday, November 3, has been designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Ask God to give grace and strength to those who are daily being pressured to deny Him.

2. Educate yourself and support missions organizations that are working to help those who are being persecuted worldwide. Two good places to start are:

  • Voice of the Martyrs (VOM)http://www.persecution.com– founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who experienced a total of 14 years of prison, torture, deprivation, etc. at the hands of the Communist government of Romania and wrote the book Tortured For Christ.
  • Open Doorswww.opendoorsusa.org – established in 1955 by Brother Andrew whose book God’s Smuggler told of his decades smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. Open Doors compiles an annual watch list of countries where persecution is the fiercest.