For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)
When I was in 8th and 9th grade, I had two friends. The three of us were inseparable. We sat near each other in class and at lunch, we studied together, and shared secrets. Looking back, I realize that the main thing that held our friendship together was the love we had for the Lord. Whenever we had to take a test, we had an unspoken agreement to put a little cross surrounded by sun rays on the top of our test papers. Because we were in a religious school, this was not a problem.
Later, when I moved, and had to attend a public school, I still drew the cross on the top of my paper. I do not remember when I stopped displaying the cross on my test papers, but I wish that I had continued to acknowledge him as my source of help and power.
On January 1, 2011, a bomb was set off in front of a Christian church in Egypt to kill and injure 1000 Egyptian Christians, as they were leaving a New Year’s service. As a result 21 died and 79 were injured in the attack.
When I heard this news, I realized that there are Christians all around the world who love and worship the same Jesus that we love. I was reminded of Isaiah 53:3: He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
Christians make up 10% of Egypt’s population. We know there are Christians in Iraq and in other Muslim nations. We also know that Al Qaeda has targeted Christians for persecution and extermination. Regardless of the denomination, we are bound together with them by the cross.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
We approach you today with thankful hearts, knowing that you gave your only Son so that we might have abundant life. Thank you for the patience and the loving kindness you show toward us daily. As we come to pray for our local church, we bring before you the trails and sufferings of Christians around the world. We stand in awe of their resolve and boldness. We know their strength is coming from you. We ask you to protect and sustain them as they stand up for Jesus in the shadow of the cross.
In the name of Jesus, who died that we might live,