Last summer, I read an inspirational book called The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World. It is a book of historical fiction based on Revelation 1:12-13. This biblical passage is part of the letter written to the first century church of Pergamum. It speaks of a man named Antipas who was a faithful witness of Christ that was martyred in the first century city of Pergamum.
The book helps us understand what life was like in the Roman Empire during the time when Revelation was written. It was a time when the church was countercultural and facing regular hardships and persecution. Ultimately, the biblical message to the believers living during these dangerous times and places was “be faithful to Christ no matter the cost.” Antipas was faithful to the Lord and was put to death for his faith.
On Sunday, November 7, Calvary will be participating in the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It is a day when all Christians should pray for, mourn for, and be inspired by the example of many believers around the world today. Christians who are facing harsh persecution. Some are even being called to sacrifice their lives just like Antipas. These, our brothers and sisters in Christ, should be considered modern day heroes of the faith and honored for their faithfulness. We, who live in such comfort and freedom, must not forget them.
So, here’s how we can honor and remember them. First, let’s make the Day of Prayer more than a casual event with a casual prayer. Those of us who are able will be asked to come to the altar during the worship service prayer time to show our heartfelt concern and respect. Second, I would like to ask that we all choose at least one meal to fast and pray during the second week of November, the week following the Day of Prayer. Some will want to take a full day for fasting and prayer. Remember, fasting is more than just going without food. It is going without food in order to tell God that he and his kingdom work is more important than food itself. So, use the time that you would be eating to pray for the persecuted church and read scripture and worship. Additionally, do some research and educate yourself. There are at least two respected ministries dedicated to serving the persecuted church: 1) Voice of the Martyrs (persecution.com) and 2) Open Doors (opendoorsusa.org). These ministries will provide detailed information about what is happening and will identify specific ways you can get involved. Finally, purchase and read The Lost Letters of Pergamum.
During my time of fasting and praying, I will read the first five chapters of Revelation. And when I come to Revelation 1:13, I will read these words: “You remained true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives.” Remember, we all have a mission to fulfill, no matter the cost. And as we fulfill this mission, we also must remember that “the one who is in us, is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).