Lonmay Newsletter 17
Welcome to the latest Lonmay Newsletter. This week I would like to encourage you to spend some time praying for our brothers and sisters in the persecuted churches around the world. While Christian activities are under threat through the proposed legislation in the Hate Crime Bill currently seeking consultation with voters before 24 July, we do not suffer the same kind of persecution as in other countries.
Indian sub-continent. In many of these countries, due to the impact of coronavirus, many families are without regular income. Food parcels are being provided by the government, but it is usually local groups who administer the distribution. Pastors and church leaders are reporting that it is frequently the situation that known Christians are not being allowed access to the provision. International organisations are seeking to get food parcels to these families. Please pray for the safety of the volunteers delivering the food, and that there will be a change of heart by local groups. Please pray for those is desperate need.
Nigeria. Over 600 Christians have been murdered this year in Nigeria. A Pastor wrote that Christians are living in constant fear of attack. Local herdsmen and Islam extremists target villages where they know Christians live. They attack in force, kill, main or abduct girls and women, while the more able escape. Many families go to Displaced Persons Centres, which are basically tented towns, where the virus is now rampant. Please pray for the Christians living under this constant threat.
China. The government are taking action against many churches and congregations, forcing some churches to close; others to remove crosses and other Christian signs, and arresting Pastors and Leaders. There is a clear attempt to silence the Gospel, but the number of Christians now in China exceeds the number of people in the Communist Party. Please pray that Christians may be allowed to meet together to worship the Lord.
Iran. Recently there have been a number of Christians sentenced to long terms of imprisonment simply for their faith. Conditions in prisons are harsh, with limited access to medical facilities, and often beatings and torture are exercised against Christians.
Space does not allow for more to be shared but access to Open Doors or Barnabas Fund websites will give you more information.
Thought for Sunday 12 July
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer – Romans 12 v 12
Another week in lockdown, but also an opportunity to spend a short period with the Lord as we gather round His Word.
In one of my favourite chapters in the Bible, as one that frequently challenges me about the state of my Christian faith and life, Paul encourages his readers to do three things. We live in uncertain times, not just the present but also the future. What does the future hold for us as Christians, as members of Lonmay Parish Church, as citizens of Scotland? It is uncertain and at times very frightening, and it is in these situations that the Devil loves us to become despondent and fearful. Our eyes are then on what is going around us instead of being on Jesus.
So firstly, Paul reminds us of the hope we have in Jesus. Yes, the future is uncertain, and we can easily become afraid, but Paul reminds us that we have a hope that is steadfast and certain. Our hope is in the One who holds the future in His hands, and we can be secure in Him. Therefore, our hope in Jesus can make us joyful and happy. This is not a selfish or proud state, but when which demonstrates our security in Jesus.
Secondly, we will suffer affliction, division, and persecution. Jesus Himself promised that following Him would not be a ‘bed of roses’ but ‘a fight to be fought and a race to be won, when there will be dangers to meet on the way’. Paul reminds us that these aspects are all part of the Lord preparing us for the time when we will be with Him for ever. You will recall the incident of Jeremiah and the potter where the clay had to be forced into the shape which the potter required in order to make the item. So too, we are being moulded into His people. The Lord asks us to be patient, by trusting Him to bring us safely through the trials to understand and love Him more.
Thirdly we are to pray. Not the last resort but the first, when we share all our burdens and concerns with Jesus. He hears and will respond to our cries. He understands all about us and loves us dearly. Therefore, when it seems that our prayers are not being heard, we are reminded to be faithful – keeping our eyes and minds fixed totally on Jesus.