"On that day [when Stephen was stoned to death], a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem,
and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." Acts 8:1
It’s hard to understand all the things that have occurred this year. The virus, lockdowns, protests, loss of employment, loss of family members and friends to death, and a continual search for “the new normal.” What is going on? Where is God in this time of suffering? Yet suffering is not new to followers of Jesus. It may not be the same trials faced by Stephen and the apostles, but God may be seeking the same outcomes in our lives.
For the next two months during our times of prayer, we read statistics and stories that reveal the how the 21st century Church and individual believers continue to face persecution. We then have an opportunity to pray for the salvation of the persecutors so they, too, may come to know the freedom and eternity that awaits a follower of Jesus. believe that the blessings promised by Jesus to our righteous brothers and sisters who undergo persecution is what motivates them to persevere despite the suffering (Matt. 5:10).
Almost every month, we receive a report of how women are being persecuted for their faith. The persecution comes from family members, churches, religious extremists and the media. Yet we continually hear how the TWR Women of Hope programs provide a safe place for women to find peace, truth and courage to persevere during these times of trial. Many of them experience the joy that James writes about (1:2-3), believing that the trials they endure are just God testing their faith to produce perseverance in his provisions and power.
As we pray in November and December, let’s pray for the continued provisions of God’s counsel, comfort and conviction. Let’s pray for each of us to stand in the truth of his Word, with the testimony of his Son, as we walk in the power of his Spirit. Thank you for your faithfulness in providing the prayers and a safe place for our women around the world and across generations.