Insights From Cole Richards, VOM President, On Responding to Issues

The following reflection is written by Cole Richards, President of The Voice of the Martyrs. In this insightful passage, he offers insight on being united with our persecuted family members.

When I tell people about persecuted Christians, I often receive a problematic but understandable response: “The world is a big place! I care about poverty, war, natural disaster, human trafficking, lack of education, persecution and many other troubling issues. But I can engage with only a few of these many problems and needs!”

I heartily agree that we are not meant to be continually immersed in the world’s problems. However, there is a critical distinction to be made. Persecuted Christians are not a problem to be solved or a need to be met. They are our family, and together with us they are the body and bride of Christ.

The truth we encounter in God’s Word is the highest, most important truth.  For example, the reality of a believer’s death in this world is eclipsed by the greater truth of that believer’s eternal life in the presence of the Lord. Similarly, while it is true, as I write this, that I am far from my Christian brothers and sisters in the jungles of Colombia in many ways — distance, language, culture, etc. — there is a greater truth about our relationship: We are eternally united in Christ.

One way Scripture describes this unity is in terms of a family. Each of us is God’s child (1 John 3:1), which makes us brothers and sisters. Within God’s great family, we are meant to “weep with those who weep” and “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15). When a Christian anywhere in the world suffers, we share in his or her sorrow because that familial relationship is greater and more enduring than relationships we may have with earthly family members who are not believers. We not only sorrow with our Christian family members but also rejoice with them as they experience victories advancing God’s eternal kingdom.

Scripture also describes us as one body. Our Lord gave His body for us — “This  is my body, which is for you” (1 Cor. 11:24). We receive His broken body and become for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by His blood. All members are meant to “have the same care for one another,” and “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:25–26).

A third way Scripture describes our unity is through the church: All of us who trust in Christ are collectively referred to as His bride (Rev. 19:7–8). None of us alone is His bride; it is all of us together.

If we will commit ourselves to understanding and praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters, it will result in a wellspring of God’s love in our hearts toward them. We will be continually encouraged by these eternally significant relationships and inspired by the stories of our persecuted Christian family members as we serve alongside them.

Overwhelmed by the World’s Problems?
Categories: Stories from the Field

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