Week beginning: 29th March, 2015

By Open Doors | Witney

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…" 

Matthew 5:43-45(a) (NIV)

As we build up towards Easter, word for the week will continue to reflect on the glorious message of the cross and resurrection and with the help of Open Doors, encourage us to pray for the persecuted church.

Sadly, 'extremism' is a word that we often hear repeated in our media today. Horrific things are being done to Christians by extremist groups. As one Nigerian Christian lady, Damaris, whose husband was killed during anti-Christian riots, said to Open Doors "As a body we have suffered a lot of loss as a result of the activities of Boko Haram and other Islamic extremists…they have bombed and burned down many churches, killed people and destroyed property."

Despite what she has suffered, Damaris shares a message of forgiveness with other victims of persecution: "If I do not forgive, the Lord Jesus will never forgive me. So I have forgiven and God will help me to love everybody. It is not easy, but it is God that will give us the grace to love."

There is often incredulity at the suggestion that we should love such enemies. We rightly cry out that the justice system should give those in the wrong the punishment they deserve. Why on earth should we therefore love them?

It may come as a shock to learn that you have been described as an enemy, but that is what God's Word tells us (Romans 5:10). Despite this God still loved us and, through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross for us, we were able to be reconciled to Him.

Are you prepared to pray for the persecutors with the same radical love that God showed towards us, and pray that they may be reconciled to Christ as well as their victims?

Prayer points

1) Pray for the victims and perpetrators of persecution. Pray that God may sustain those who are victims as they seek to follow God's Word as they reach out in love to those who are considered their enemies.

2) Pray that you might have the opportunity to witness to the power of the Cross with someone this week.
Click here to find out more about Damaris and the persecution in Nigeria http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/worldwatch/nigeria.php