A Pastor Prays for the Persecuted

Dr. Wendell Hawley shares with us a prayer for the persecuted church

Sovereign Lord,

We are overcome by the awful persecution of Christians in various places.

This Satanic activity against our brothers and sisters in the household of faith

would overwhelm us were it not for the fact that you know

every dear child of yours,

every detail,

every situation!

To the church at Smyrna you said: "I know your tribulations."*

and to the faithful in Pergamum: "I know where you live."*

We take solace in this--you know!

But still we would be dismayed for the persecuted ones

Were it not that you have said: "He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world!"*

You know, oh Lord, that every believer lives in a non-believing world

a world at times demonstrating its hatred of you and yours.

But your will and your purposes will be accomplished!

You are greater!

So we pray

that tested believers

persecuted saints

those who belong to you will know your presence

and your power

and your protection in fresh new ways

and that each one will experience


and hope

and confidence in the Lord of Glory.

Jesus, we pray that you will make real to the persecuted ones

Your very words of promise:

"Fear not little flock,"* praying in

every instance fear will be replaced with the joy of the Lord,

"who loved us and gave himself for us."


*Scripture passages in the order they were quoted: Rev. 2:9; 2:13; 1 John 4:4; Luke 12:32; Gal 1:4.


When Ebola Invades Your Ministry

If October’s one word is salt, then perhaps we ought to take our cues for how to respond to the Ebola outbreak from Mercy Ships, and not Fox News.  

Brian Blackburn, the chief administrator of the Mercy Ships Academy, recalls that in January, the ship was in the Democratic Republic of Congo and planned to go to Guinea for its next medical outreach. “Ebola cases were coming in,” explains Brian, and the situation for Mercy Ships was changing month-by-month.

This spring, the ship decided to change course to Benin, West Africa.  After consulting with the  Africa Mercy chief medical officer on the ship and the Mercy Ships leadership team, plans changed again. “We don’t have the environment or isolation wards,” explains Brian. “We are not a first responder in this way. So at that time, the managing director of the ship explored a medical outreach in Madagascar.”

Brian is upfront about the crew’s reaction. “The crew is disappointed and feels as if we have disappointed people that we have spent years working with. A lot of people on the ship have ties to West Africa,” Brian points out. “I am keeping track with four friends about what’s going on. At first, they said it wasn’t as bad as what was being reported, but now they’re saying that people are dying, and the situation is horrible.”

Although Mercy Ships isn’t equipped to meet the needs of an outbreak such as Ebola, they are equipped to pray. “This has really gotten our whole crew to pray,” says Brian. “But if our ship had been there, it would have been quarantined, and then we wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere.

“The majority of our single people are ready to risk their lives and die, but the leaders of the organization are not prepared to make that decision for everyone else, remarks Brian. “ I’m encouraged to see individuals stepping up like at Samaritan’s Purse.  But when you’re the leader and you have to decide not just for yourselves but for the whole group, it is harder.  Some of our crew are torn and feel like they’re running away from the situation, so it is a struggle for those of us who have strong ties to West Africa.”

Once Mercy Ships received permission from the government of Madagascar, they took the three-week sail to Madagascar, where they were last in 1997. The ship will be there until May 2015.

“There are medical needs everywhere,” Brian points out.  “The United Nations has ranked the worst countries, and Madagascar is among the lowest. We are still meeting the need, just in a different country.”

Brian says that Mercy Ships could literally have ten ships in Africa and still not meet all of the needs. “We’re trying to keep our crew safe and, at the same time, do our best to meet some of the need.”

Mercy Ships has every intention of returning to port in West Africa “I think the people of Africa are the most creative people I’ve seen. They do things in a way that I would never think of doing things. There was a story of a young woman who used trash bags to make her own protective suit so she could care for her family.  When you lack things, you become creative.  Could you live on less than $2.00 a day?

“The media always shows the ugly and dirty, but Africa is beautiful,” Brian says. “Ten minutes outside of any city in Africa is beautiful. In fact, I feel safer in West Africa than I do in downtown Chicago.”

Looking down the road, Brian says that Mercy Ships will return to West Africa. “When it’s safe to go back in, we will to do training and rebuild medically.” Brian concludes with a request for prayer for wisdom for him and his wife, Warrie, and their two daughters as they rejoin the ship’s community.

Read Mercy Ships statement on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Young, Christian and Professional

As the Fall Missions Festival was about to begin last week, College Church missionary Mark Papierski left Wheaton for Moldova and Ukraine. He landed in Chisinau, Moldova, where he and the other arriving passengers were serenaded with traditional Moldovan folk music.

As the leadership development director at Mission Eurasia (formerly Russian Ministries), Mark's final destination in Moldova was the Young Professionals Forum on Missions. Some 400 young professional men and women from Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova participated in this one-day conference that echoed the theme of our Fall Missions Fest, "Marketplace Connections for Global Impact."

Here's a report from Mission Network News about the conference and the challenge to these young Christian professionals.

After the conference, Mark and his colleagues ventured to the city of Slavyansk, Ukraine, within 60 miles of areas that are under pro-Russian separatist control. Along the way, they met Pastor Grigoriy Pavlovic, who is meeting war-weary people's physical needs through Mission Eurasia's "I Care" program and meeting their spiritual needs with the gospel. Churches in cities such as Slavyansk are caring for the needs of refugee families all across eastern Ukraine. You'll hear more about the "I Care" program in the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. 

Young professionals worship and reflect at the October' forum in Moldova.

Young professionals worship and reflect at the October' forum in Moldova.

I Sing the Almighty Power of God

Jeremy Taylor on a hymn by Isaac Watts (1715)

2014 has been a good year for sky-gazers. Between “super moons” and “blood moons” and lunar eclipses and asteroid showers—we’ve had lots of reasons to look up to the heavens and rejoice at God’s power and creativity. We might be reminded of Isaac Watts’ words, written 301 years ago: “The moon shines full at his command.”

Maybe it was while looking at a “super moon” that Watts wrote what he intended to be a teaching song for children. But while it is filled with nature imagery and utilizes relatively simple language, this hymn is no simple nursery rhyme. Rather, it extolls God’s goodness and power as displayed through his creation.

Psalm 8 says, “You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants, you have established a stronghold against your eneamies. . . . When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you have set into place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

The same God that created the super moon and the blood moons created and cares for each one of us. And that’s something worth singing about at any age.


I sing th’almighty power of God that made the mountains rise,

That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies

I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;

The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.


I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,

Who formed the creatures through His Word, and then pronounced them good.

Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed wheree’er I turn my eye,

If I survey the ground I tread or gaze upon the sky.


There’s not a plant or flower below but makes Thy glories known.

And clouds arise and tempests blow by order from Thy throne.

While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care,

And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God, art present there.

Walk Slower

Cheryce Berg reflects on how fast she's walking

Im scurrying alongside the Levite. 

I must be, since I cant keep up with the priest.  And, unfortunately, Im moving too fast to be with the Good Samaritan.

Im good at duty.  I have my list, and Im hurrying by you as I look down at it.  I have special jobs, and important roles, and Im on a tight schedule.  My robe is clean and my sandals are new, so Im trying to keep to the well-worn middle of the road, where most of us walk.  Not the dusty sides where there might be trouble.

This path Im on is dangerous, so I must walk quickly.  No looking to the right or left.  Im sorry if I missed you over there, lying stripped and beaten and half dead. 

You see, Im doing Gods work.  There are orphans to consider, bags to pack for my mission trip, meals to cook for the sick, high school girls to disciple, family members to pray over, refugees to visit, friends to host, Bible study lessons to prepare.

But I have it all carefully laid out, and if I see you lying on the edge of my path, I might lose my focus.  I might neglect my duty.

I steal a quick glance at you.  The Holy Spirit in me cries out with the Fathers love, and I feel drawn to act with compassion.  I grip my list tighter with sweaty hands and stumble, my brow furrowed. 

Why do I fight Him?  Why am I afraid to let the Lord hold my list, or worserewrite it?  Why is showing unplanned mercy and compassion so messy and difficult? 

And why has it been shown to me by my Lord, time and time again, when Im so sinful and undeserving? 

Sometimes, the Spirit in me wins over Important Self.  As I stand in turmoil, seeing you there on the side of the road, the Good Samaritan catches up and teaches me how to love when it costs something.  And surprisingly, time pauses.  Joy fills the hole Ive created by duty.  A tiny piece of my list is rewritten by Love itself, by the One who loved me in the same way.

So why am I still so often scurrying along with the Levite, and not the Good Samaritan?  Lord, teach me to walk slower, and to show mercy. 

Luke 10:30-37English Standard Version (ESV)

30 Jesus replied, A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back. 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers? 37 He said, The one who showed him mercy. And Jesus said to him, You go, and do likewise.

Jesus Shall Reign

Jeremy Taylor on a hymn by Isaac Watts (1719)

It’s a common practice in modern songwriting to take an older song and modernize it, either by changing the words slightly or changing the tune. This is nothing new—in 1719, Isaac Watts did something very similar. He took an old song—Psalm 72—and wrote a “contemporary” song based on it.  Watts once wrote that he felt some psalms were unsuitable for Christian worship because they were written before the completion of God’s redemption and revelation. So when he wrote the hymn “Jesus Shall Reign,” he applied a distinctly Christian focus to a psalm written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.

In Psalm 72, Solomon wrote, speaking of the king, “May he have dominion from Sea to Sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Watts applied that to Christ, writing that “His kingdom shall spread from shore to shore.”

In 1797 there was no great missions effort yet underway. It wasn’t until sixty years later that William Carey, the father of modern missions, set sail for India. Today, the church is active in missions all around the world. The work is not yet done, but what a wonderful testament it is to God’s work in the world that Isaac Watts’s vision has come to pass. Of course, there has never been a time when the words of this hymn were not true. But we can rejoice that today we see people living out God’s Word and following Jesus from shore to shore and to the ends of the earth.


Jesus shall reign wheree’er the sun

Does his successive journeys run;

His kingdom spread from shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.


To Him shall endless prayer be made,

And endless praises crown His head;

His name like sweet perfume shall rise

With every morning sacrifice.


People and realms of every tongue

Dwell on His love with sweetest song,

And infant voices shall proclaim

Their early blessings on His name.


Blessings abound where’er He reigns;

The prisoner leaps to loose his chains;

The weary find eternal rest,

And all the sons of want are blest.


Let every creature rise and bring

His grateful honors to our King;

Angels descend with songs again,

And earth repeat the loud amen!