It is no mistake that our Annual Missions Conference has been scheduled on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  As we weigh the task of global missions, the suffering of our brothers and sisters in foreign lands should serve to remind of the significance of our commission.  It should also serve to embolden us to join Christ our king outside the gate.

Hebrews 13:12-14 says, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” (NAS) These words of Scripture are exactly what you think they are – a call to leave the ease of our comforts, to get outside ourselves and outside the four walls of our church buildings and identify with the sufferings of Christ.  This is not our home; we are seeking the city which is to come.

As a reminder of the importance of our prayers, I want to share with you the the story of Asia Bibi, and Christian woman in Pakistan who is currently imprisoned and on trial for blasphemy against Islam.  Her story is reported by the Voice of the Martyrs:

On Oct. 14, Asia Bibi appeared in court, in Sheikhupura, Pakistan and spent some time with her family before the court appearance.

Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, her daughters and VOM contacts met  her for 15 minutes before the court appearance. “Asia is in strong faith. Her eyes were hopeful. Praise God,” VOM contacts said. Asia told VOM contacts she prays everyday at 3 a.m. “I thank God that the jail administration has good behavior with me,” she said. “I don’t have trouble from them, but I miss my daughters and family. Please arrange my soon release from this jail,” Asia told VOM contacts.

Asia’s daughters were visibly upset when they met her. “The little daughter was continuously asking her mother ‘Mama when are you coming back home?’” VOM contacts said. Isha, the eldest daughter, cried and hugged her mother and would not let her go.  Isha pointed to the veil on her mother’s face and said, “I want to see your face, remove this cover.” It was a sad scene.

The court rescheduled another hearing for Oct. 27. Asia was arrested by police on Friday, June 19, and charged with blasphemy. Her family is one of only three Christian families in a village of more than 1,500 families.

Many of the local women, including Asia, work on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees. During their work many of the Muslim women have pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam.

On June 19, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling the Muslim women that Christ died on the cross for our sins, according to VOM sources.  She told them Jesus is alive. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them.

Upon hearing this response the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia Bibi. Then some men came and took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.

Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She is currently being held at the police station in Nankana city. Christians there urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed that they must go forward due to the pressure from local Muslim leaders.

Pray for strength for Asia and her family to endure the sufferings of whatever sentence is handed down.  Pray that God would be glorified and Christ lifted up through her unswerving commitment to the Savior.  Also pray for the salvation of Muslims in Pakistan.  I love you all dearly!