When you went to church last Sunday, did you know you’d be coming home afterwards? Back to preparing the Sunday lunch, an afternoon stroll, resting before the week ahead…

Imagine if going to church was literally taking your life in your hands – running the risk of an explosion, or gunmen bursting into the congregation; not knowing if you’d see your friends and family again, let alone prepare lunch for them.

That’s the reality of life for thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

Over the past year, 5,898 Christians were murdered for their faith, 5,100 churches and Christian buildings were attacked, and 3,829 Christians were abducted.

That’s why for many, the only place they can worship Jesus is in an underground church. It’s the reality of life for a group of believers in Eurasia. Since the mid-nineties to the current day, 13 international Christian workers and an unknown number of local believers in this area have lost their lives for their faith. For doing something that we can so easily take for granted. Going to church.

But we worship a God who has overcome death and who can achieve the impossible.

Risking everything for God’s word

A small group of believers in a province in the Middle East, called the Anvard* people, have taken great risks in order to make progress with a Bible translation project. Six of them took a week off work – which is a risk in itself because of the questions that could attract – so that they could travel up to 10 hours to attend a week’s workshop on the foundations of translation. And they did this not in a quiet, peaceful location, but in a country that is in the midst of a civil war and in danger of a total collapse. These Anvard people risked their lives for the sake of God’s living word. They had part of the New Testament, but now they want the whole of the New Testament. This means so much to them that they are taking complete ownership of the translation project.

A stone pen where the Anvard* people keep their sheep

This is great news. When you take ownership of something, you treat it in an entirely different way. You protect it, you take pride in it, and you want it to be a success. And even more so when you are talking about translating the word of God. This isn’t just life-changing work; it could be eternity changing.

But what does it mean for a people group to take ownership of a Bible translation project? For the Anvard team, it means continuing to carry out translation work, employing translators, and paying for all of this through their church. It also means making decisions about what partnership they might need with people from outside of their community.

Not crushed

When you are facing persecution, it’s understandable to feel that there is no hope. That no one cares. But that is not true. God has not forgotten them. Our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church have you to pray for them, lifting them up in prayer to our heavenly Father. And we can praise God for the courage and determination of these Anvard believers.

Will you pray this verse over them in faith that one day, our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world will be able to read it, and in fact the whole Bible, in the language they understand best?

‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’ (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).

Story by: Martin Horton

Date: 15/03/2023

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