It is very appropriate to have an emotional response to persecution. That is how many of us began in ministry to and with the persecuted church. We deeply identify with their pain and loss, and we are driven to help.
As good as that emotional response is, there is more we can do. More than likely, if we have an emotional response to persecution, it will set our bodies in motion to do something. That is the Western way—we are, by and large, 'activists.'
But there is still more we can do. We need to have an intentional, intelligent response to persecution as well. We need to engage the mind to understand the biblical and theological aspects of persecution so we can have a competent and mature understanding not only to be able to articulate this clearly to those who are skeptical but also to approach persecution with wisdom. When the emotions cool and the body gets weary, we will still be engaged in the very important ministry to the persecuted church because we are fully committed to it. We are focused, determined, and relentless in our ministry. That kind of spirit comes with concrete devotion based on a rational choice and is much more than a mere emotional response. It involves an intentional, willful decision based on the realization that it is the will of God and that we are to be about his business.
One way to develop a sound, disciplined mind is to complete one or more of the online courses on VOMClassroom. The site includes material on many aspects of persecution and is ready to help you engage your mind. Courses on the site include history of persecution, preparing for persecution, New Testament studies on persecution, and evangelizing Muslims. Each study is a wonderful resource for you personally and for your church, and they are available at no charge.
These courses are making a difference. Here are comments from current and recent students:
"I recommended the classes…[if] people want to know about Biblical perspective on persecution and learning about history of persecution, they can check your website out."
"VOM classes appear to be so valuable, that they should be offered more widely."
"I am really enjoying the online classes. I'm enrolled in the classes to get more information that may be of use for me in the ministry. I'm also developing a Bible study curriculum for my church's small groups to introduce them to VOM and the persecuted church and a deeper meaning of the cost of following Christ."
As we charge out into the world, we need to be sure that we truly have a sound, disciplined mind capable of being mightily used by God. Developing our minds is a part of being about God's business.
Roy Stults, PhD, is the Online Workshop Coordinator and Educational Services Coordinator for The Voice of the Martyrs. He graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (BA and MA), Nazarene Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Doctor of Missiology), and The University of Manchester (England) with a PhD (theology). A Vietnam veteran, Dr. Stults served as a missionary for 19 years and pastored U.S. churches for eight years. Prior to joining VOM, he was a Professor of Religion at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.