Back in October, I wrote a post exploring the idea of ISIS being a modern-day Nineveh. Over the weekend, something happened that made me recall that post. ISIS released a video showing the beheading of a group of men they called “people of the Cross.” In the wake of that news, Christians around the world have joined together to pray for the persecuted church. This is a call to action I whole-heartedly agree with.
But what about the persecutors? Who is praying for them?
What if there was a man in that group on that beach who, like Saul at the stoning of Stephen, watched and approved of the action taken? And what if God has planned a Damascus road moment for that man? And what if that moment could result in raising up a loud voice for the Gospel in that part of the world?
I believe in a God whose arm is not too short to save anyone no matter how far from Him they have run (Isaiah 59:1). I believe in a God who took a man who murdered Christians in the name of God (Saul) and transformed him into the loudest voice for the Gospel of his day (Paul). I believe in a God who not only can but also wants to extend grace to those who stood on that beach and murdered innocent men. I believe the Cross those men followed is proof of that.
I also believe my prayers could play a part in making that happen.
So this is what I’m praying:
Your arm is NOT too short to save. You can reach anyone, anywhere, at any time. And your Gospel is strong enough to rescue even the bloodiest murderer from himself. I confess that I often don’t believe that… or want to believe that. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
And so I lift each one of those men to you. I don’t know who they are, but you do. You imagined and created them. You knew that they would be on that beach. You knew what they would do to your children.
But you also know how that moment can bring you the most glory. I pray that plan might include bringing at least one of those men to know the truth of who you are and the truth of your Gospel. Send him dreams, give him a vision, speak to him from a blinding light- do whatever you must to get his attention and draw his heart to yours.
We know that moment on the beach was not the end of the story for our Christian brothers, but rather the beginning of an even better one. I pray that might be true for our not-yet-brothers as well.
Would you join me in praying not only for the persecuted Church but also for their persecutors?