Monday, May 24, 2010
Steven and I had been planning to do a missions focus with our youth for quite some time, and we finally did that in what we called Missions May. We personally support The Voice of the Martyrs; it's a ministry we're passionate about, and we're honored to help a pastor in Vietnam. We decided to highlight VOM's ministry to persecuted Christians around the world.
Our goal was not to get people signed up with monthly commitments, as we're dealing with teens, most of whom do not have a personal source of income. (Don't get me started on youth camps and conferences where a certain other ministry peddles monthly support commitments to students. It angers me to have the kids given a presentation meant to make them emotional, then sign up for commitments. It's very hard to be a youth leader and stop kids to ask them first if their parents will be okay with this. Puts us in a very difficult position!) While I did share my story of answered prayer in regards to supporting a pastor, we didn't offer that sort of thing up as an option to the students.
Our goal was to open their eyes to the plight of Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. We made them aware of what was going on, then we took some very simple steps towards helping.
One, we prayed for them. The apostle Paul himself wrote letters to people thanking them for their prayers while he was imprisoned. It helps, even if it doesn't seem like much to the one doing the praying.
Two, we wrote letters. VOM makes it very easy to do so. Go to this website and follow the instructions. The only cost is the 98 cents for a stamp to send a letter internationally. We didn't feel bad about asking kids for $1 donations to cover the cost of a stamp. For our students, $1 is not even a sacrifice. How privileged are we?
Three, we involved our entire church. Steven arranged for a VOM representative to visit our church yesterday and talk to our congregation in place of our regular sermon. It was an unbelievably moving experience to see actual video of Christians being persecuted, as well as the joy they experienced as they received smuggled bibles. I think every single person in our church realized in that moment just how much we take the Word of God for granted. Very humbling experience, indeed.
Our entire church, including the children's department got involved with sending postcards to a particular prisoner in China. Again, how very little the $1 donation for postage is for our privileged congregation. And how precious to see that the children even donated their dollars and signed postcards, even if their "signature" was nothing more than a scribble with their names added by a teacher.
Overall, our little church is sending 140 letters and postcards to prisoners. Those letters serve a dual purpose: encouragement for the prisoners and pressure for the authorities to let them go. Our hope is that this won't be a one-time deal for our students. And to make sure that we don't let go of our fervor that we've picked up recently, we plan to make parachutes this summer that will be used to drop Christians materials into dangerous parts of Columbia.
It doesn't take much to make a difference.