Persecution Preparedness Drill

We’re prepared for hurricanes.

We prepare for blizzards, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. When we live in a region where these events can be anticipated, we receive all manner of public service announcements regarding preparedness and we heed them, if we’re wise.

Christians have been warned since the birth of the church that persecution is coming. This week’s annual report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom reminds us that in many parts of the world, persecution of Christians is a current event.

And if the podcasts and news reports I’m hearing are to be believed, Christians in the West should anticipate that our time of pressure is not far from becoming a reality.

Every Jesus follower would be wise to prepare for the coming storm.

Here are ten suggestions I respectfully offer for persecution preparedness:

  • Learn to pray. It’s on your to-do list. You bring it up at small group or in Bible Study that you want to become more faithful in prayer. God has nudged you often that He’s missing time with you. Do it NOW. Develop a habit of listening to God, praising Him, expressing gratitude, and casting all your cares on Him.
  • Pay attention but don’t take up residence in fear. Instead, release fear and embrace a lifestyle of love. The Bible warns us that in the end times, many will be tempted to allow their love to grow cold. Fear does that. It hardens hearts. Practice working through your fears with God (see suggestion number 1) and loving others by treating them as God treats you. If you fear a frown of disapproval from a co-worker, imagine the fear that will present itself when persecution arrives! Loving others is hard enough in times of safety – we need to nail that now because one day, we may have to love under fire.
  • Cultivate Christ-like humility. Arrogance, entitlement, and self-righteousness will weigh down a soul needing every resource to face persecution. Abandon them now and take on the yoke of Jesus’ humility that served Him well in His time of hardship and trial. Better to embrace humility under God’s care than to be humbled by an enemy.
  • Know what you believe and why. Procrastinating about understanding the basics of our faith? Studying God’s Word? Reading the Bible through? We’re called to love God with our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Feast NOW on His Word before the days of famine arrive at our door. Memorize what you can so that God’s Word is embedded in your thoughts – live what you read, so it’s transforming and not just ego-boosting.
  • Practice calmly, simply, unapologetically speaking truth about your faith. We don’t need to rehearse complicated theological arguments to testify about our experience of Jesus and understanding of our relationship with Him. Simple words expressed in a quiet but certain manner empowered by the Holy Spirit will suffice for these times and those to come.
  • Make worship a lifestyle. Free worship from the confines of a weekly visit to a specific sanctuary. Yes, meet with others to worship regularly because character is refined in community, but allow that time to transform the life you lead every other day. Worship through serving others in Jesus’ name. Worship by allowing Him to change you from the inside out. Worship alone or spontaneously. Worship so that your life speaks even if one day, your words are outlawed. Worshipful lives are attractive in mysterious and powerful ways.
  • Listen to those who are persecuted now. Let the voices of brothers and sisters in countries hostile to our faith tutor us in following Jesus into the lion’s den. Intercede for them, provide aid and advocacy where possible, and allow their testimony to lead you to greater humility, stronger faith, increased courage, and a deeper devotion to live like Christ.
  • Leave it all on the field. There are so many distractions available in the West to take our minds, hearts, resources, and devotion off the narrow path set before us. Let the prophecy of coming persecution motivate you to make the most of these days. Fewer regrets when persecution arrives will free emotional resources for the moment at hand. Work with one hand, fight with the other, and you won’t have a free hand for the remote, the shopping cart, or the video controller.
  • Love globally, act locally. Keep a global perspective but don’t let that blind you to the needs next door or even in the next pew. Making eye contact with those with whom we’re present is very much like Jesus. He was tuned into the Father and He loved the world, but He was fully available to the person touching the hem of His garment.
  • Emulate those who have come before us. One of my great faith heroes is medical missionary Helen Roseveare. Hearing her speak at an Urbana conference in the 70’s affected me deeply. Helen suffered intense brutality during civil unrest in the Congo in 1964. She would later say that she had always, until that time, counted the cost and ask herself of each choice, “Was it worth it?” After the humiliation and torture of that time, she answered, “No, it’s not worthy it.” And that’s when God directed her to a better question. “Is He worthy?” “Yes,” she replied, “Jesus is worthy.” Is He worthy? He is.

There will come a time (and that time has arrived for many brothers and sisters) when persecution and suffering for Jesus’ sake will intensify. Let us encourage one another now, while we are free to do so, to love and faith and not to fear.

Will it be worth it for those of us who endure? It won’t feel like it in the moment, but that’s when we will ask a better question. Is Jesus worthy? Yes. Yes, He is and He is with us always, even to the end of the age.

What will you do now to prepare for the coming persecution? Will you work through this list of persecution preparedness suggestions? Amen, loved one. Because, really, this is what we should be doing anyway if we’ve been listening to Christ all along.

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6 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Jann Butts says:

    Yeshua Messiah is always worthy!!
    Thank you for another EXCELLENT blog!!

  2. Tammy says:

    Sobering, thought provoking post today. Just like with any storm, the more you’ve prepared for in advance, the better able you are to withstand. I never thought the prophecy might be fulfilled in my lifetime, I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Thank you for the preparedness guide Lori.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Lori. He is worthy. Love the author Andrew Peterson’s video of his song, “Is He Worthy?”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OIahc83Kvp4

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you!

  5. Pam Glover says:

    For an example of being prepared, read Evidence Not Seen. Darlene Diebler-Rose was a missionary captured by Japanese soldiers in WWII. Her faithfulness during years n the prison camp is wonderfully encouraging and inspiring..

  6. Barbara Latta says:

    The times are showing us what is coming and we do need to be prepared. Thanks for the wake up call for those that may read this and think it’s never going to happen here. Just listen to the hatred of Christians coming thru The airwaves.