This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Gustavo Figueroa (from Cuba. Gustavo Figueroa is an itinerant evangelist and writer, using a pseudonym for personal safety reasons), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
It is not good for the man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18)
Many novels have been published about the ordeal of people who managed to survive in lonely places.
Think of The Count of Monte Cristo which describes the ordeals of a man who was confined to a cell in a fortress, where he spent many years in complete isolation. Or think of Robinson Crusoe, surviving on an island, or Treasure Island which tells the story of a man who was abandoned on an island.
We enjoy these books and admire the people who survived, despite extreme problems and circumstances, often feeling forgotten and very, very lonely.
To feel lonely, however, does not mean that you are without company. One can live among crowds of people and still feel very, very lonely.
Our Scripture for today says: 'It is not good for the man to be alone.'
The Lord wants us to pay attention to those who are lonely, forgotten, alone.
Let us pray for them today, especially for those who are in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ. Let us pray for a believer who stands alone in a Muslim village.
Let us do something for a person in our neighborhood who has no friends, or for one who experiences great sorrow or pain, for whom we can become a blessing in a time of need.
A moment of introspection: Mr. Figueroa brings us fresh insight and perhaps a new perspective on an oft-read and well-known verse from God's Word. We might say that 'It is not good for children of God [believers] to be alone.' Yet many of God's household of faith suffer alone--away from the caring touch of family, of friends, of clergy and laity from their church. Certainly, such believers suffer for their faith, apart from our own awareness and separated from our 'sphere of influence'. Gustavo rightly asks us to pay attention [to remember, to suffer with] our faith family who identify with Christ and therefore suffer the antipathy of the world against them. How might we 'pay attention to those who are lonely, forgotten, alone'? Mr. Figueroa answers that, saying we may pray for those in prison, for those who are ostracized in their own community because they believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. Yet we can do more than that. Here are some notable examples of "next steps" we might take to "do something" for the persecuted:
WHAT TO DO TO HELP THE PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD
1. GET INVOLVED. Make a commitment to be an active part of the solution. Speak out. Be creative in using all the resources you have: phone, fax, mail, and e-mail. Maintain this commitment day in and day out.
2. GET INFORMED. Commit to learn about the dilemma of the persecuted. Read books and articles on the subject. Additionally, there are several web sites that will keep you informed on what is taking place in most of the countries that allow persecution. Some notable web sites are Christians In Crisis, Voice Of the Martyrs, and Open Doors.
3. WRITE to the President of the United States, and your members of Congress (House and Senate.) Write to the rulers of the countries that practice persecution, express your opinion in a firm, but polite way. Christians In Crisis offers a wonderful resource for Writing to Governments, and Open Doors also offers Resources for Advocacy
4. EXPRESS YOUR OPINION. Write articles to newspapers and magazines expressing your opinion. Also, contact your local radio and TV stations to cover this pressing topic. Respond to articles written in the papers regarding this issue.
5. INVOLVE YOUR CHURCH. Give material to your pastor(s). Ask them to use the pulpit and church publications to educate and involve the church. Offer your help to organize a “Persecution Conference” that can involve other churches in your community. Invite experienced speakers. Plan a special program for “The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church,” which is scheduled for mid-November. Ask your church to adopt and support a persecuted church.
6. CALL THE CALL-IN RADIO PROGRAMS. Use them to educate the public about the religious persecution and human rights violations around the world.
7. PROVIDE TO THE PERSECUTED. Because many of the persecuted cannot find jobs due to their faith, they suffer tremendous financial hardships. They desperately need your financial help. Consider adopting a persecuted family. Several worthy organizations do accept tax deductible donations for that purpose. Support one of these organizations.
8. HOST A DINNER (AT YOUR CHURCH OR COMMUNITY) TO BENEFIT THE PERSECUTED. Invite a speaker, share information, have the media to cover the event.
9. SHARE A COPY OF THIS INFORMATION WITH YOUR CONTACTS. Send it to your relatives, friends, church members, neighbors, etc. Ask them to please get involved.
10. PRAY & FAST. Last but not least, pray without ceasing. Pray for:
- The persecuted people to endure the daily pain and agony of persecution.
- The persecutors that they may have mercy.
- The leaders of the countries that allow persecution, that they may take the necessary action.
- The leaders of the free world that they may use their God given power to make a difference.
- Finally, pray that God may mightily use you.
- Make a commitment to fast at least once a month and try to feel in humility the tremendous hunger and thirst that the persecuted Christians experience daily.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16
Mr. Figueroa invites us to become a blessing in a time of need, both in terms of persons in need within our own communities, but also within the larger world community of believers. Perhaps we are familiar with Psalm 46:1 (God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.) in which the Scriptures tell us that God Himself is just such a help, just such a blessing. The Holy Spirit has been likewise described as "a Helper" (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7). Yet we have also been assigned this godly trait of helping and comforting (Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. [2 Corinthians 1:3-4])
We can pray, we can reach out, we can be ambassadors from God to a hurting world. This is not a time to be idle. This is a time for godly action and purposeful compassion. Let's intercede for our persecuted brothers and sisters; let's reach out to them as outlined in a recent devotional ("Reach Out and Touch"), and let's choose to help the persecuted Christians around the world in at least one way outlined above. God has helped and comforted us, that we might help and comfort others in their time of need. To turn a familiar quote by Walt Kelly and his character Pogo, [who lived in the Okefenokee Swamp—located in the American South] "we has met the helpers, and they is us"!