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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_single_image image=”123998″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]05/27/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Jesus encourages a generosity that goes beyond societal norms. He calls us to give with open hands, not grasping onto the comforts of this world. In theory, that sounds easy—just relax your muscles to open your hands and allow the Lord to do what He may with your life.

When we live in a culture that is soaked in comfort and we have an opportunity to show generosity, we often do so with a slight (or strong) grip on our own desires. These grasps can be subtle, like hesitating to share the Gospel with a long-time friend because you’re worried about your own self-image. They can also be life-altering, like ignoring the Lord’s calling for you to serve overseas as a missionary. Big or small, when we refuse to let go of our earthly desires and comforts, they have the ability to skew our perception of God.

Sometimes we ask, if God is good, then why aren’t good things happening in my life? We lose sight of the fact that we deserve nothing good on our own sinful accord.

Jesus calls us to give up our lives. He calls us to die to our desires and to seek life in Him. One of the most stunning lessons the persecuted have to offer is that in order to truly live, you must first die to yourself. He calls us to surrender our heartbeat, our lungs, our mind, to Himself. And we can do so in confidence, knowing that the God of the universe cares for us intimately.

The lessons we can all take from the persecuted are endless. Everyone can learn a new perspective on their life when they encounter the stories of the persecuted. God will often call financially blessed believers to give generously to those less fortunate. These acts of sacrifice, whether through your time, talents, or treasures, do not go unnoticed. No matter how much you give to the persecuted, the return on investment will be so much greater.

We’ve highlighted multiple ICC donors’ testimonies as a means to share how their acts of giving have loosened their grip on the comforts of this world and have drenched them in spiritual growth.

God has blessed me to live in a peaceful nation where I don’t experience persecution. Since God has blessed me in this way, it’s my duty to Him to bless others in ways I can. Because when we give to others, we are also giving back to Him. We are advancing the Kingdom of God. Jesus constantly tells us to help the poor and the suffering, to show mercy and justice, as He shows mercy to us.

A Purifying Fire: Galen, Ethiopia

I care about the persecuted because it’s where faith costs the most, where it tends to be the purest, and where material resources in the Body of Christ tend to be [the] least.

I also grew up in the developing world and, with my Christian commitment, I have an inherent interest in what is happening there. I grew up in Somalia. After 45 years in the US, I am currently in Ethiopia, looking to expand outreach to Somali believers. Being in touch with the persecuted is a way of staying in touch and maintaining a fire that has nothing to do with our zeal, a fire that purges and purifies.

Close to God’s Heart: Anna, United States

My motivation for giving is obedience and [a] desire to be part of what God is doing in other parts of the world. I feel like when I give to the persecuted, I am giving directly to a need that is close to God’s heart. The persecuted have taught me not to complain. Love and understanding of the truth connects you to God in a way that allows you to undergo severe hardship. I care about the persecuted because they sacrifice so much and are detached from a large portion of the Church. I feel a sense of responsibility to balance their suffering. I also feel it is my duty to care for them. I feel like, in them, you see so clearly the heart of God.

The “Comfortable” Gospel: Barbara, United States

The Bible instructs us to care for those who suffer for Christ. Most in the US are too focused on their own church programs, growth, and financial stability. Many have expressed [that] the hardships and persecution of others are too hard to hear about, so they embrace the “comfortable” gospel.

In the end, not denying Christ and enduring to the end is worth it all. Nothing in this world is worth taking the place of Jesus, the One who paid it all. There is an unexplainable joy, even in the midst of severe suffering, that Christ makes Himself known in personal and creative ways in the darkest situations.

Unwavering Faith: Kayla, New Zealand

The persecuted are the ones whose faith is being truly tested. They are the fulfilments of the prophecies where Jesus says we will be persecuted for believing in Him, and that is something to be greatly admired. God loves each and every one of us, but to live somewhere where you are violently persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ, and to still believe and preach about Him, takes immense faith and shows how they undoubtedly love Him. The persecuted [reflect] how we should all be as Christians. They are literally laying down their lives for our God, and one day I hope to do the same.

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