If you are an observant shopper (like I’ve become) I imagine that you’ve noticed how many of your clothing and other material purchases are made in countries other than the United …
If you are an observant shopper (like I’ve become) I imagine that you’ve noticed how many of your clothing and other material purchases are made in countries other than the United States
There are tags on my shirts, pants, and jackets that say these products are made in Honduras, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, China, Mexico and so on.
So many of the new items that I’ve recently purchased either online or at the Big Box stores that I have shopped in are made in factories, and even in prisons in foreign lands.
Like Christmas Lights.
In Volume 2 of the book “Jesus Freaks: Stories of Revolutionaries Who Changed Their World: Fearing God, Not Man,” (pages 94-96) there is the account of the Christian pastor in Mainland China, Li De Xian and his wife Zhao Xia.
They had been repeatedly arrested, beaten, tortured and threatened by the authorities in the Communist Peoples Republic of China because they continue to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and distribute Christian literature and Bibles.
From October 2000 to May 2001, Pastor Li was arrested 15 times for preaching in his unregistered house church in Guangzhou. He said, “Christ was the first to suffer, we just follow Him…I will preach until I die.”
During one of his imprisonments “jailers tied his arms and legs together and chained his arms and legs to a bedpost for three days.”
When he was released from the ropes and chains, he was forced to work on an assembly line in the prison factory. Pastor Li and his fellow inmates were plugging bulbs into Christmas lights that were sent to stores in the United States.
Some of those lights will be hanging on our house, our trees and bushes outside, and on our Christmas tree inside this year. Maybe yours too.
Pastor Li and the others on the assembly line had a quota of placing between 4,000 to 5,000 bulbs in the strings of lights a day. All for the pleasure of American consumers.
The torture that I mentioned earlier was done to prisoners just because they failed to meet their quotas in those Chinese labor camps.
Li had seen fellow imprisoned Christians tortured so badly that their numerous wounds and slashes bled through their clothing.
Pastor Li’s wife, Zhao Xia wrote concerning their current lifestyle and persecution, “Don’t feel sorry for us. At least we are constantly reminded that we are in a spiritual war. We know for Whom we are fighting. We know who the enemy is. And we are fighting. Perhaps we should pray for you Christians outside China. In your leisure, in your affluence, in your freedom, sometimes you no longer realize that you are in spiritual warfare.”
The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to be tortured for his faith. He was among friends in Macedonia, recovering from his previous persecutions when he wrote his second letter to the church in Corinth.
In 2 Corinthians 11 he wrote: “ 23….in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote his letter to the Ephesians, in which he said, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
That is what Zhao Xia was referring to when she wrote, “Don’t feel sorry for us. At least we are constantly reminded that we are in a spiritual war. We know for Whom we are fighting.”
And just like Paul, Zhao Xia was praying for other Christians. They were praying for others people, and we need to be praying for those around the world who today are being persecuted for their faith in Christ.
Persecuted Christians may have made my suits, sports jackets, and coats. I wonder what their conditions are in those factories in foreign lands.
I pray for fellow believers in Christ, my brothers and sisters around the world every day. I have made that a habit.
If they are praying for me in my…leisure…my affluence…my freedom…while they are suffering for their strong stand for the Word of God and their Lord Jesus Christ…My Lord Jesus Christ…then I must be praying for them as well.
A portion of a proclamation from the 1975 World Council of Churches Nairobi Assembly says, “No one—imprisoned, tortured, harassed, or persecuted—should escape the vigilance of the praying church.”
Back in the 16th century John Calvin wrote, “Against the persecution of a tyrant the godly have no remedy but prayer.”
In the earliest years of the 2nd century, one of the Apostle John’s disciples was a man named Ignatius. He was appointed as the Christian bishop of Antioch in Syria.
In the year 111 A.D., Ignatius was imprisoned for his unwillingness to make offerings to the Roman gods, and his refusal to worship any other gods but the One True God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bishop Ignatius, while in a Roman prison, wrote to the churches he oversaw. In one of those letters he wrote this prayer: “Father make us more like Jesus. Help us bear difficulty, pain, disappointment, and sorrow knowing that in your perfect working and design you can use such bitter experiences to mold our character and make us more like our Lord.”
Historical records indicate that on the day he was martyred for his faith, Ignatius was led into the Roman arena before a large crowd and was mauled to death by wild beasts; probably hungry lions.
It is recorded that as he stood before that roaring and mocking crowd he once again refused to deny Jesus Christ. Some of his last words were, “Now I begin to be a disciple… Let fire and cross, flocks of beasts, broken bones, and dismemberment come upon me, so long as I attain to Jesus Christ.”
When the wild beasts were released, Ignatius didn’t struggle. It’s written that the Bishop “willingly laid down his life as a sacrifice and sweet-smelling offering unto the Lord.”
I pray for those Christians around the globe today who are suffering persecution and martyrdom; those who stand firmly for their faith in Jesus Christ while facing humiliation, beatings and torture.
And I pray that I too would be standing firmly in my faith should I face that type of persecution.
God help me. God help us.
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