‘But how do they keep strong in their faith?’
This was the passionate heart’s cry of a young woman during a question and answer session in a Release Women conference.
On 21 May, Release Women, part of the organisation Release International, serving persecuted Christians, held one of its regional ‘heart2heart’ conferences in Barnet, Hertfordshire.
The aim was to connect women in the UK with persecuted Christian sisters in other countries and to bring a greater commitment to pray and engage with persecuted brothers and sisters.
A further aim was for attendees to leave with the commitment to keep telling their churches that persecution is inevitable and in line with what Christ himself said, that ‘If they persecute me, they will persecute you also’.
In answer to the question of how Christians stay strong in their faith, Naomi, a Pakistani convert from Islam, replied: ‘When my family wanted to kill me and destroy all that I possessed, all I can remember is the fact that my faith was so important. It had brought me such freedom that I just wanted them to have it too! I could not let go of the gift that the Lord had given to me’.
Another member of the panel (made up of those who had either been persecuted for their faith or ministered to the persecuted) said, ‘The strength and resilience I have seen, particularly in women, blows my mind. They know what it is to cling to God through adversity and pain’.
After being reminded that most of the New Testament was written by the persecuted for the persecuted, the 70 women attending prayed for the millions of Christians around the world undergoing trials because of their faith.
They were then able to tackle the question, ‘What can we really do to support them as they are our family?’ The answer was to do as Paul did — sit down and write to their sisters in Christ. Later on, they also gave financially and pledged to continue in prayer.