Does prayer for persecuted Christians far away really make a difference? A direct and immediate impact on those who suffer would be hard to prove. We do know, however, that some Iranians upon release from their ordeal of an Iranian imprisonment have spoken of sensing at times a “wind” of the Spirit that gave them new hope amid their suffering.
Recently the College Church Friday prayer time for persecuted Christians has been following the challenges facing “Siamak,” a businessman from a closed country whom I met in a small Istanbul hotel over two years ago. Siamak had heard me talking with another hotel guest and concluded that I must be a follower of Jesus. After breakfast as I went out the entrance way for the day Siamak followed me a short distance and stopped me to ask if I could teach him something about the Christian way. That evening we met in his hotel room for a lengthy and serious discussion and met again briefly the next evening before he left for his home country.
Months later we began regular reading and discussion of Bible passages on Skype. By the end of the year, first, Siamak and then his wife were able to make the profession of Romans 10:9-10 that the risen Jesus is Lord. But then came long periods of communication breakdown and only brief email exchanges. Questions came to mind: Was his faith genuine? Had he put it aside encountering rejection and threats? Or had he been incarcerated?
Our Friday prayer group began to pray for Siamak by name. We were encouraged that a Skype chat occurred in which he said he and his wife were continuing to read a copy of the New Testament they had gotten hold of. Just two weeks ago, Siamak again Skyped to say he and his wife had been hosting a reading of the Gospel of Matthew with three of their friends. But Saturday, October 29, he phoned to say he had been summoned by the police for extensive interrogation about his activities. I again assured him a group of Christians was praying for him every Friday at noon. Then Thursday this week he emailed that his brother had learned of his summons and commitment to Christ and was putting great pressure on the two of them. Gladly, the next day, an hour before our prayer meeting, he emailed that he and the circle of friends had met the same day for their regular gathering at a neutral place since their home was now being watched. Indeed, his faith is genuine!
Does praying for those being persecuted make a difference? Siamak would say it does. Join us in prayer for the man I call Siamak. Our Lord knows Siamak by his real name and the names of those who meet with him.
Even though I've never met Siamak, I pray for him, and I am thankful when Glenn tells our Friday group of how God is working in his life. Then there are the other Christ followers that we pray for—some by first name or just an initial, others are not identified at all—and we may never hear updates about them, but know deep in our hearts that the world is not worthy of them. This Sunday evening, we will have a time of prayer for the persecuted church. Also, we will always make room for you at the table at the Friday prayer group for the persecuted church.