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As Though We Were With Them….

The last few months the kids and I have been studying the book of Acts together.  We take a few verses each day and talk at length about them.  I have read Acts many times over the years, but this time I was struck in a new way.

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.”    Acts 12:7

The kids and I tried to imagine what it would be like to be struck in the side by an angel who is urgently instructing you, “Get up quickly!”  Can you imagine?  The story keeps the reader on the edge of their seats…because the guards are asleep on each side of Peter and never wake!  {Our powerful God!!}  Peter himself isn’t sure if he’s dreaming or not…I mean, think about it – the doors open on their own!!  But after heading down the street outside the prison and seeing the angel disappear, he realizes that this is for real!

What hit me afresh was what happened next….

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When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.  And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer.  Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate.  They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

We talked at length about this sincere group of friends who were gathered into the night praying for Peter.  They sure must have loved him and cared!! They wanted him released even more than they wanted their sleep!!

Actually scripture mentions people imprisoned for their faith quite a few other times, like here….

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”   Hebrews 13:3

Did you realize that at this moment there are people, just like you and me, imprisoned for their Christianity?

One of the most often mentioned scriptures when talking about what the Lord expects of us while we are on this earth is this scripture:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  Matthew 25: 35-40

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Can you believe that of all the things that Jesus could’ve mentioned in these verses, he mentioned feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, spending time with the sick and visiting the imprisoned.   And amazingly,  Jesus isn’t referring to our peeps in any of this – but rather complete strangers. 

And let’s face it, it’s actually a no-brainer to care for the people we love, right?  Although in all honesty, there have been a few times over my lifetime that I have been left completely baffled by those who refuse to care for those they even know who are in true need.  They make me so dumbfounded – because a clear evidence of knowing Christ is helping those in need.  And frankly, “helping, visiting, feeding, clothing, and welcoming” are all verbs.  Which mean they require action, as in, calories burned.  

And somehow the scripture above doesn’t seem to allow for a lot of wiggle room.  Jesus pretty much says, “Here’s the deal. You’re supposed to take care of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those imprisoned.”

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And when we read these verses we might even be able to check off some of the things that we are supposed to be doing, but to be quite honest, I just don’t think most of us westerners give a ton of thought to those imprisoned for their faith.  And yet, I would be willing to bet that those imprisoned for their faith are banking on the thought that Christians in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, etc, are praying for them.  They would likely be shocked to find it not so!
And listen up, since I don’t know what you do with your day, I am clearly not pointing my finger.  In our home we often pray for those imprisoned in our Bible study, but I have only seldom written letters to those imprisoned for their faith.  It’s definitely time to step up my game!!   
There are several ministries that spend their days praying, advocating for and encouraging others to take action on behalf of the persecuted church.
Here’s a few of my favorite links {if you know of others, please leave them in the comments}:
The Voice of the Martyrs – makes it super easy to write a letter to an imprisoned Christian.  Just select the lines you want to say {there are tons} in the prisoners native tongue, then print and mail.   Seriously, so easy!
Prisoner Alert – a ministry of Voice of the Martyrs – it shows pictures of those imprisoned.  Friends – some sitting in prisons for their faith are ladies.
Open Doors USA is another ministry, but for some reason, I just can’t get it to open to attach the link probably because of my African wifi as I type this!
But friends, bear with me –
Because right now on the other side of the world, Pastor Saeed Adedini is coming upon his 3rd anniversary sitting in an Iranian prison.  What’s even more shocking is that Pastor Saeed is an American citizen!! 

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 He and his wife make their home in Boise, Idaho with their two children…and she has asked others to join her in fasting for her husband’s release.   This month marks THREE years in an Iranian prison!! Can we even imagine?
Over here at Our Place Called Simplicity we have been known as people who believe in the power of prayer and fasting.  We have seen God do some pretty amazing stuff.  Of mountain-moving proportion!!
And I think it’s time we fasted for Pastor Saeed.  God can open the prison cell doors just like He did for Peter. He can do anything He wants because He’s God.  Our job is to be praying earnestly for him and his family, just like the early Christians were doing when God set Peter free.  
 
Pastor  Saeed’s  wife has asked people to join her and fast for the month of September “from pleasant foods”….according to the book of Daniel.   Such a small thing to ask of us who are not in her shoes!!  Here’s the article that interviews her.
I don’t know Pastor Saeed nor do I know his wife.  But I do know that if it were me, I would be earnestly asking the Lord to place my situation {or my husband’s situation}  on the hearts of the body of Christ so that they would earnestly pray on my behalf!!
Month of Prayer and Fasting
September 10th to September 30, 2015
Asking God to #FreeSaeed
I’m going to set an alarm several times a day to remember to pray for Pastor Saeed.  Would you set yours too?  And tell your friends to pray with us!!  Ask your Bible studies, prayer groups, friends, family to join in a mighty move of God in setting Pastor Saeed free NOW!!
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There are some Facebook pages dedicated to keeping friends updated regarding Pastor Saeed’s situation.
AND this week the congress has been listening to arguments regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal.    And in the midst of it, Pastor Saeed’s future would appear to hang in the balance.  Now is the time to pray!!
Here is his wife’s Facebook page:
Thank you friends for joining me {and thousands of others} on behalf of Pastor Saeed and his family. You guys are the best!

3 thoughts on “As Though We Were With Them….

  1. This is my great passion, to pray for the Persecuted Christians. I hold a prayer and letter writing time with ladies from our church when we write to these believers and their families.

    Interestingly enough, the other day I thought to tell you and your treasures about Maryam Naghash Zargaran who was involved in the orphanage connected with Pastor Saeed Adedini’s ministry, and who is also in prison. She has a heart condition. I thought you and your family especially would connect with Maryam’s story because she also has a heart for the orphan…and because of that heart, the charges included “plotting to undermine national security.” And now her heart is also physically broken. Would you and your treasures and the others who advocate for orphans bring Maryam’s situation to the Lord? Please? It is also possible to write to her via Open Doors or via Release International
    https://www.opendoors.org.za/eng/take_action/iran_writing_campaign/maryam_zargaran_iran/
    http://www.releaseinternational.org/media/download_gallery/POF%20Alert%20November%202013.pdf
    If those links don’t work (the second is a pdf, so will open as a download.) you can type in Open Doors or Release and Maryam’s name.

    God does open prison doors! but also a recent Iranian believer was detained and time after time though she was nearly paralysed with fear, the Holy Spirit opened her mouth to testify to her interrogator! and after several days of this, her cell door was opened in the night – which caused even more fear – but the interrogator said, I need your prayer! and he gave his life to Jesus! the rest of the story is here http://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/stories/iran_150529.php

    Anyway, don’t want to take up all the space on your comments!
    Sandy in the UK

    1. Oh Sandy!! I love this!! When I get home I will talk to the kids about Maryam and we will write to her. I think it would be great to be able to have a group of people gather regularly to write to the persecuted Christians. The need to keep these precious brothers and sisters in Christ on the forefront is so huge!! Thank you for sharing!!

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