Recently millions of Christians around the world observed a church-based IDOP – International Day Of Prayer for the persecuted church (See http://www.idop.org). It’s an international, annual prayer focus held the first week of November.
For a number of reasons, this IDOP is probably mainly an adult effort. I wonder if many kids are offered the opportunity to join their elders, even though children, worldwide, suffer for their faith. Remember the ISIS invasion of Christian regions in Iraq last summer? And don’t forget the many children who are impacted by the imprisonment of their fathers, pastors who suffer the consequences for their boldness to preach the Gospel, in season and out.
Still, the photos and news items are often unfit for children’s eyes, especially the very young ones. I certainly don’t recommend exposing kids to material that might induce nightmares.
I do, however, recommend that we give children the opportunity to make a difference by their intercession, and where it is appropriate, to contribute in other ways to the welfare of those who are persecuted for their Christian witness. Since God makes is clear that kids are important in His Kingdom, I suggest we get in the habit of including them in Kingdom matters. Let’s do this in ways appropriate to their ages, rather than leave them out altogether. After all, most of us can be thankful we’re not, persecuted, right? But then, I wonder, are we also missing the blessing?
Scripture is full of examples of persecuted believers and their response to ill treatment. Read David’s words in the Psalms or portions written by the Old Testament prophets. Or take scenes from New Testament narratives. Perhaps the overall New Testament summary is found in Jesus’ sermon recorded in Matthew 5, verses 11 and 12. You might begin with a lively discussion of this passage with your kids and make November a month long focus on this topic.
Voice of the Martyrs is an organization that provides abundant, age-appropriate resources to help parents encourage their kids to make a difference in the lives of persecuted Christians. Check out www.kidsofcourage.com for their children’s website. It’s an online magazine with stories and activities for kids.
Another possibility, Vision Video , distributes Christian films for sale and includes two of VOM’s productions: Stephen’s Test of FAITH and Agent Abbey. The first is about the challenges faced by 12-year-old Stephen who travels back in time to witness incidents of persecution and “…contains no scenes of excessive violence.” The second is set in China where teenaged Abbey accompanies her photographer dad and meets members of a house church. The First Valentine is also available through Vision Video and tells the story of third century Valentine and his Christian friends. On this same website, you will find the Torchlighters videos, an animated series about heroes of the faith.
You have your own favorite mission agency websites that publish information about the persecuted church, and you can search online for this topic as well. My point is to invite you to make this a matter of interest and draw your kids into God’s heart of compassion for men, women – boys and girls – who pay dearly for their privilege to suffer for Jesus sake.