(Editor’s note: This column is an adaptation of remarks Farah delivered to the Value Voters Summit in Washington Oct. 12.)
Several times in Acts, Paul recounts what the risen Jesus said to him while he was persecuting believers on the road to Damascus: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
When Paul asked who it was that was speaking to him, Jesus said: “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.”
Believers are being persecuted around the world, probably in numbers greater than ever before in history.
We need to remember why.
When believers are being persecuted, the Lord Himself is the real target.
This is not just a political act. It’s not just something that is happening in the material world. The motivation is spiritual. It’s part of an unseen battle taking place in the heavenlies.
The Word tells us that it is a sure thing – something to be expected, anticipated – even, and this is hard for us to get our arms around – welcomed and embraced.
It’s a kind of worldly validation that we are doing the Lord’s work.
The Lord tells us in Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
How many of us are rejoicing for the persecution we are just beginning to experience in America today for the Lord’s sake?
It’s hard, isn’t it? But that’s how we are to respond.
The Lord tells us in John 15:20: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you …”
What is our No. 1 response to be?
The psalmist tells us: “Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.”
We need to stand on the Word of God.
I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard before, but I think it’s important to remember the context of the attacks we are seeing on believers today. We need to remember what the source of those attacks is and why they are directed against us. It’s not about us. It’s about the Lord.
We can’t beat them back by resisting them only with the weapons of the material world. We need to follow God’s prescription and with His power.
What is His prescription? I’ll get to that in a few minutes. But, first, I want to provide some more important context to understand what we see happening in our world today.
Are believers beginning to feel persecution in the United States today?
Yes, we are. We see our biblical values being attacked in the schools, in the media, in the cultural institutions, even right here in Washington at the highest levels of government.
But remember, it’s nothing compared to what believers are experiencing in Egypt today, in Syria, in Pakistan, throughout the Islamic world, in other authoritarian and totalitarian countries and increasingly in other nations that have simply elevated man above God.
In the Islamic world today, believers are being beheaded, tortured, raped, murdered, driven from their homes, given a choice of converting or dying. In China, believers must meet in secret. Some are forced to have abortions. In Sudan, they are murdered, kidnapped, enslaved.
Over the past 100 years, 35 million Christians have been killed for their faith worldwide.
This is persecution.
We chronicle it all on a daily basis in WND. I think it’s accurate to say we do it more rigorously and thoroughly than any other news agency. The suffering of the church throughout the world today is one of the biggest and dirtiest little secrets of our time. And for those of us here in the U.S. who do little or nothing about it where we still have the opportunity to expose it, it’s a scandal. It’s one of the reasons I founded WND 16 years ago.
I have to say this: Though we are beginning to experience some degree of persecution here in America, it is nothing compared to what our brethren are experiencing in many parts of the world. Nothing. But I believe we will be judged according to the way we stand with our voiceless brethren who suffer in silence.
But let’s talk briefly about what is happening today in the U.S.
- Believers are being prosecuted and threatened with prosecution for following the dictates of their conscience. Same-sex marriage has been one of the catalysts. Wedding photographers and wedding cake bakers and bed and breakfast owners being coerced to be a part of same-sex weddings. It’s happening today in America. How long will it be before pastors are forced to take part?
- Schools are embracing transsexualism. We see the media celebrating this kind of diversity – restrooms and locker rooms no longer segregated by the actual sex of students but by how they feel about themselves. Student bodies encouraged to vote for prom and homecoming queens who are transsexuals.
- Prayer and Bible reading are under attack, not just from atheists but from multiculturalists.
- Obamacare mandates for participation in abortion. The list goes on and on. But this is just the beginning. It’s going to get worse.
How do we battle this? How do we respond? What can we do?
Fighting strictly in the political arena is, I fear, hopeless. So, what do we do?
We need to be informed – and that will take an effort, because the U.S. news media pay no mind to Christian persecution around the world.
We need to network ourselves with organizations that are doing great work in bringing some relief to believers under attack – Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, International Christian Concern and many others.
We need to pray for the persecuted church. Nov. 10 – just one month away – is the international day of prayer for the persecuted church. That’s a Sunday, by the way. How many of your churches will be participating? The older I get, the more I recognize the power of prayer. It’s more powerful than all the nuclear bombs in the whole world. It’s the most powerful weapon on the face of the earth.
Two years ago, I heard the teaching of Jonathan Cahn, the messianic rabbi who wrote the bestselling Christian book of 2012 and 2013, “The Harbinger.” We worked together on a documentary version of that teaching called “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” which also became the bestselling Christian movie of 2012 and 2013 – still going very strong.
While working on that, I came to a new understanding of a Bible verse very familiar to all of us. I had read it a thousand times in my life. But it began to take on new meaning for me.
The verse is II Chronicles 7:14. You all know it: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
It was a promise God gave to Solomon at the dedication of the first Temple. But I believe it’s a promise for all of us today.
When I read this in the past, I thought it was a nice verse that suggested national revival was the key to healing of the land. And there’s certainly some truth in that. But that’s not exactly what it says.
It is an instruction by God to whom?
His people. Those called by His name.
That’s us. Believers.
It’s not an instruction to nonbelievers.
And what is the instruction?
We’re to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.
Wait a minute! Most believers assume they’ve already done that once in their lives. They said some magic words and they’re saved. But salvation isn’t the end of the journey. It’s the beginning. We all continue to fall short of the mark. And we need to recognize that. We can’t accept and tolerate continual sin in our life. We need to repent of it and turn away.
Only then, God promises, will He hear our prayers, forgive our sin and – heal our land.
We can be involved in politics. We should be involved in politics. We need to be salt and light in our culture. We need to resist evil wherever we see it. But all of that will be for naught if we don’t follow this prescription. We need to harness the spiritual weapons that give us the real power, the power that created the universe and holds it together.
It was because of all this that last spring I took a leap of faith with Jonathan Cahn and called for a national day of prayer and repentance for Sept. 11. I didn’t know where it would lead. I had no plan. I had no idea anyone would listen. But on Sept. 11 this year, just months after that call, we identified more than 1,000 churches in American that participated. We identified hundreds of thousands of individuals who participated. Next year, we’re going to do it again.
I don’t say this lightly – I expect miracles to result from this kind of spiritual warfare.
That’s the kind of power that we can harness if we follow God’s prescription.