'Free to Believe'
By Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ
Climbing For Christ's Prayer Team lifts the persecuted church and Christians everywhere: to be bold in the face of danger. But we also pray for those not facing persecution: to be bold in the face of complacency.
Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010 is the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. The theme this year is “Free to Believe.”
I love the metaphor Carl Moeller, the president of Open Doors USA, shares from a Chinese pastor, who said: “We are like bamboo in winter. In the winter in China the bamboo is often laden with snow and it bends all the way and touches the ground so that when heavy snows take over, the bamboo lays flat, but when the snow melts the bamboo stands tall again.”
The persecuted church — the body of Christ — is like bamboo. When under attack it may bend, but it will one day stand strong. Stronger, in fact, because of the persecution it has endured.
We ask you to take some time today to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are under attack. Pray for their spiritual courage.
One of the highlighted nations under the banner of “Free to Believe” is Uzbekistan, the 10th-most oppressive country for Christians, according to Open Doors. We have a member named Sergey in Uzbekistan, where Christ followers are treated harshly all the way to the grave. Funerals often are disrupted by officials, who refuse to allow Christians to bury their dead.
Pray for Christians in Uzbekistan by meditating on Psalm 5:1-3 and then meditating on passages from the Bible without opening The Book. Do this as a way to understand how Uzbek Christians are forced to hide the teachings of and praises for Jesus in their hearts. Preaching and singing in the Uzbek language during worship is prohibited.
Pray also for:
- Climbing For Christ members Hulk, Karlo, and John and Nina, who live in Saudi Arabia, the third-most oppressive country for Christians (behind only North Korea and Iran).
- Lee and Frank in China, the 13th-most persecuted country in the world.
- Arshad in Pakistan, No. 14 on the World Watch List.
- Cin Sian and Michael in Myanmar, which is ranked No. 23.
- Chris and David in Nigeria, where the North is 27th.
- Oksal and Erkan, as well as Kurdish friends, in No. 35 Turkey.
- Our 34 C4C members in Indonesia, at No. 48.
- Joseph and James in Kenya, where the Northeast is the 50th most persecuted place on the planet.
Persecution doesn't start or stop there, however. It occurs in every nation on the World Watch List (see below) and, to some degree, in every country in this world. Jesus told us, “Everyone will hate you because of me” (Luke 21:17). But He will watch over us. To the end of time.
Posted Nov. 10, 2010
Praying for the nations
Our time in prayer during the 2009 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (story below) led us to initiate PROJECT PRAYER. Each week we focus prayer on the specific needs of one country. Many of these nations are places where persecution is a tragic fact of life. [See the 2010 World Watch List below.]
Other times we are praying for countries where Climbing For Christ Evangelic Expeditions and ongoing mission work are occurring. We ask our members and supporters to continually pray for Climbing For Christ, and the work God is doing through us.
In his final instructions to the church of the Thessalonians, Paul exhorts the church: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV).
We constantly ask the Climbing For Christ PRAYER TEAM to “lift the persecuted church and Christians everywhere: to be bold in the face of danger.” But we are also mindful of the other side of the coin when we make this request: “And for those not facing persecution: to be bold in the face of complacency.”
May we be unceasing in our prayer for the people of God and for those who do not yet know Jesus as their Savior.
The 2010 World Watch List from Open Doors, announced Jan. 6 (with last year's ranking in parenthesis):
- North Korea (1)
- Iran (3)
- Saudi Arabia (2)
- Somalia (5)
- Maldives (6)
- Afghanistan (4)
- Yemen (7)
- Mauritania (18)
- Laos (8)
- Uzbekistan (10)
- Eritrea (9)
- Bhutan (11)
- China (12)
- Pakistan (13)
- Turkmenistan (14)
- Comoros (15)
- Iraq (16)
- Qatar (17)
- Chechnya (20)
- Egypt (21)
- Vietnam (23)
- Libya (25)
- Myanmar (24)
- Azerbaijan (27)
- Algeria (19)
- India (22)
- Nigeria, North (26)
- Oman (28)
- Brunei (29)
- Sudan, North (30)
- Kuwait (32)
- Tajikistan (34)
- United Arab Emirates (35)
- Zanzibar Islands, Tanzania (31)
- Turkey (39)
- Djibouti (38)
- Morocco (40)
- Cuba (33)
- Jordan (37)
- Sri Lanka (36)
- Syria (46)
- Belarus (44)
- Tunisia (47)
- Ethiopia (45)
- Bangladesh (43)
- Palestinian Territory (42)
- Bahrain (48)
- Indonesia (41)
- Kyrgyzstan (unranked)
- Kenya, Northeast (49)
(Note: Dropping from the 50 most persecuted countries was Kazakhstan, ranked 50th in 2009.)
Posted Jan. 6, 2010
International Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Climbing For Christ has joined Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs in praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who endure a live of persecution for being followers of the Way.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Those who carry the cross of Christ in places such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, and Indonesia face the threat of physical harm. In 2008, Christians were martyred for their faith in North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Iraq, India, Nigeria, and Bangladesh.
But God watches over our brothers and sisters, and we — as the body of Christ — stand by them through prayer.
Climbing For Christ members (clockwise from bottom left): Kevin Kimble, Mary Lindsay, Ace Concordia, Gary Fallesen, Elaine Fallesen, and Isaac Will. (Photo by C4C member Derek Fullerton)
On Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church was held. A small group of believers — seven Climbing For Christ members and one guest — gathered in the chapel at Hope Lutheran Church in Rochester, N.Y. to make their requests known to God.
We lifted the 50 countries on Open Doors’ 2009 World Watch List:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Zanzibar Islands (Tanzania)
- United Arab Emirates
- Sri Lanka
- Palestinian Territories
On this day, Climbing For Christ had members in nine of those countries. We prayed for these members by name:
- Karlo in Saudi Arabia
- Lee in China
- Rev. Arshad in Pakistan
- Jonathan in India
- Pastor Cian in Myanmar
- Pastor Chris in Nigeria
- Oksal and Erkan in Turkey
- Members of JEJAK in Indonesia
- Joseph in Kenya
Evangelic Expeditions have been or are scheduled in three of the nations on the list: China, Turkey and Indonesia. Several others are included in our Mission: Vision.
In addition to the 50 most persecuted countries, we prayed for Malaysia, where Malays cannot legally convert to Christianity. In October 2009, authorities in Malaysia seized more than 20,000 Bibles written in Malay because they refer to God as “Allah” (the Arabic word for God) because Malaysia’s government says that word is exclusive to Islam. Climbing For Christ has a presence in Malaysia and we lift that presence in prayer.
Climbing For Christ will participate annually in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We encourage chapters and members to gather in prayer cells of two or more and lift those facing persecution. Prayer is essential to the work the Lord is doing through us (and will do through us) in many of these countries. Please pray for the mission of Climbing For Christ to help those in spiritual and physical need in the world’s mountainous areas, where other missionaries cannot or will not go.
Posted Nov. 10, 2009