Sunday we celebrated Veteran’s Day here in America.  It’s a privilege to remember and honor those who have bravely fought for the rights and freedoms of our country and others around the globe.  It’s not ironic to me that Sunday was also the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  While our soldiers are fighting and dying for freedom around the world, many Christians continue to be silenced and punished for their faith.

At church, Jay Todd from the organization Voice of the Martyrs, shared about our sisters and brothers in Christ who suffer dire consequences on a daily basis for this harvest.  My heart broke watching the video re-enactment of Bounchan Kanthavong’s imprisonment and torture.  He spent nearly 13 years in prison for his faith.  Despite the deplorable conditions, he yearned for a Bible more than food or water.  I shook my head in disbelief, because I own multiple Bibles and think nothing of it.  Most of them haven’t been off the shelf for longer than I care to admit.  Seeing Bounchan’s face and hearing his story made it all so real for me.  We’ve probably all heard about Christians being arrested and murdered before, but it’s always seemed so far away and impersonal to me.  Sunday’s message gripped me in a new way as I thought of these suffering Christians as my family.  I felt connected.

When I was growing up, my dad was vehemently against all things Christian and I had to sneak out of the house to attend church.  No doubt there was some rebellion involved, but I also had a deep longing for connection with God.  I inherently knew time with Him was valuable and necessary.  I was in a very abusive home, and church was a place of escape and hope for me.  When I finally was able to move away, I was free to attend church whenever I wanted.  At first, I was grateful and excited for this new freedom, but the urgency and appreciation faded after a few years.  It slowly transformed from being a privilege to being an inconvenient chore. 

Once I became a parent, church became important to me again.  God creates us with an amazing built-in discernment to know our children need the Word of God.  Though I listened to that voice and went back to church, my appreciation for the freedom to worship was missing.  I wasn’t fully aware of that lack of gratitude until today.  Now I’m beginning to remember and miss the hunger I had for hearing His word, for corporate worship, and for the camaraderie of fellow believers.

Every now and again, I’ve thought about how I had to sneak out to church and feel sorry for myself.  Dad made a real effort to ridicule and punish me if I got caught attending church.  That meant I suffered for Christ, right?  Hearing about the men and women who have been arrested, beaten and killed made my penalties pale in comparison and put things in a new perspective.  Now I long for a change in my heart as I shift my prayers, asking for the hunger and passion I once had. 

How about you?  Has there been a time when you’ve hungered for God’s word?

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