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Why Talk About the Persecuted Church at Youth Group?

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Thirteen Three’s aim is to mobilise and empower a generation of passionate youth to be bound with their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

For this to become a reality it is vital for youth groups to keep the persecuted church on their agenda.

I know from personal experience this can be quite difficult. There is so much going on that it can be easy to forget about our persecuted brothers and sisters.

We can be so focussed on the lives of our youth, for example the difficulties they are having at home or the stress they are under at school, that we don’t plan for their spiritual growth, particularly teaching them about God’s mission outside the local area.

Secondly, as leaders you might feel that persecution is too difficult to bring up because there are non-Christians at your youth group.

May I encourage you to think again?

Here are my three reasons why I think it is important to keep persecuted Christians on your youth group’s agenda.

1. Mission is important. It is easy for youth to grow up in a Christian bubble, where all they think about is themselves and the people immediately around them. Christianity is so much bigger than this. Our God wants everyone to come to know him as Lord and Saviour and His church has a responsibility in this (Matthew 28:19). To do this we need to invest; we need to invest in people, we need to invest in Bible colleges and we need to invest in projects that help the spread of the Gospel in restricted nations. One such project you could consider investing in, is Bibles for North Korea. For only $80 ─ which could be fundraised in a term by your youth group ─ we can send on your behalf 20 Bibles to North Korea that will make an impact on people’s lives…even a village may come to know Jesus.

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2. Jesus’ mission cannot be stopped. Through our own experience we may feel that Christianity is not growing; people, and especially young people, don’t seem to want anything to do with Jesus. It is encouraging to show your youth what is happening in restricted countries. Christians are being arrested, beaten and even killed, but often in these dark countries, many people are finding hope and security in the love of Jesus. This is found in Scripture: the growth of the early church can in part be attributed to the persecution which happened after the stoning of Stephen, which scattered the early Christians out of Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1-2)

3. What should we pray for in difficult times? Why should we pray at all? Prayer is a crucial element of being a Christian because we have a God who cares, listens and acts in response to our prayers. He wants us to pray to Him, but it can be hard to know what to pray for. Teaching youth how to pray is so important and the persecuted church is able to demonstrate how to pray in difficult times. For example, I love what Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for. Despite his situation, he doesn’t ask for the persecution to stop; instead, he asks for courage: “Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” Ephesians 6:20. As they are bound with the persecuted church in prayer, youth will also gain a broader view of God’s mission and their part in it.

There are so many other reasons why youth groups need to be bound with the persecuted church. What reasons have you found? I’m confident that the more we talk about and pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, the more our youth will grow in their relationship with God, and the persecuted church will benefit greatly from your partnership. Why not have Thirteen Three come and speak at your youth group?

Stay tuned for next month, when I give five creative ways to support persecuted Christians at your youth group.

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