“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." - Luke 4:18 (NIV)
Jesus read these words from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue of his home town. “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus shouted.
The launching of the New Covenant era had many excited, and others deeply disturbed. The levels of freedom and grace unsettled some, and a new persecution against the followers of Jesus would soon explode.
Jesus walked about healing people and doing good to the people groups most despised by general society - the poor, oppressed, slaves, jailbirds, leprosy victims, and of course, women.
Two thousand years later the followers of New Covenant grace and freedom are persecuted through out the 10-40 window countries. Little has changed. Well, yes, but, so much has changed!
Yes, persecution against the followers of Jesus rages, even to the level of genocide, yet the world has changed because of this persecuted group of people.
One hundred years a go, most of the Christians living on this planet lived in Western Europe and North America. Today, 70 percent of all Christians now live in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God created much persecution, however, many new followers of Jesus also!
In Sudan, pastors tell us at Open Doors Ministry, the persecution against Jesus followers is so strong, many Muslims are taking an interest in Christ.
The Muslims are weary seeing persecution against people who are doing nothing wrong, and many of those Muslims end up committing their lives to Christ. This wonderful marvel is occurring in Syria and Iraq also. Thousands of legitimate conversions have unfolded.
The blood of the martyrs impacts all people, creating a miracle called re-thinking. Let us pray for all the saints around the world, and the work of preaching the gospel, loving the poor, oppressed and enslaved.
Kingdom building is all about reaching down and helping the less blessed up into greater blessings and relationship with Jesus. May you spend your week ahead reaching down!
Kim Wenzel is a local Open Doors USA ministry representative who speaks in churches and groups about praying for the persecuted church. For more information, persons interested may contact Wenzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-919-1490. Hear more about the persecuted church at 6 p.m., every Saturday on KWXC 88.9 FM Christian talk radio.