In a recent interview with The Christian Post, New York City pastor Bill Devlin challenged followers of Christ to minister to the persecuted church. He plans to visit Mosul and to meet with leadership of ISIS in an attempt to help stop the persecution of Christians in Iraq.
Pastor William Devlin has a passion for ministering to the persecuted church, and has been known to challenge other believers to be more politically active on behalf of the church. He drew national attention in 2012 when he opposed New York City's ban on churches holding worship services in public schools by doing a 42 day fast, and has spent time ministering to persecuted Christians in dire places all over the world.
"God has really put a calling on my life to go to the persecuted church," says Devlin. He believes that while many believers in America are praying for the persecuted church, perhaps more should be done to aid those in need. "As I've gone to these persecuted Christians in these countries, they say to me, 'It's great that people pray for us ... but where are they? How come they're not coming?'" says Devlin - his challenge to Christians who live in relative comfort and safety is to go to the persecuted church. "I think that we as believers -particularly here in America - we ought to be laying down our lives," he says. The pastor has been able to minister to suffering believers in places like Cuba, Sudan, Gaza, Syria, and Iran.
Devlin's desire is to minister to and to pray with the church in the midst of their hardship. The pastor says he usually checks the U.S. Department of State website to see where it says not to go, and begins to pray for God to open up doors for him to go there. Devlin went to visit Saeed Abedini in Iran, but was unable to meet with him. He also went to Sudan to pray with Meriam Ibrahim while she was in prison. He has done humanitarian work in Muslim areas, and was thankful to have had opportunities to pray for them in Jesus' name.
The 61-year-old pastor has both children and grandchildren, and says that his wife is fully supportive of his ministry and calling. "I am crazy - I'm crazy for Jesus ... I believe that being in prison is actually the normal Christian life," says Devlin. He has now set his sights on meeting with leaders of ISIS. "I thought, how many Americans are willing ... to go to Mosul and meet with ISIS and say, 'Let our people go - let the followers of Jesus go,'" he says. The pastor also hopes to visit Kenneth Bae in North Korea and to tell the country's dictatorship to set imprisoned Christians free.
"Jesus said to go," Devlin says emphatically, perhaps in reference to Matthew 28:18-20 where the Lord says to go make disciples. The New Testament truly highlights the importance of prayer with several examples where believers prayed for the persecuted church but did not necessarily go to minister to them, likely because they feared for their lives; however, it makes much sense for believers to care for their persecuted brethren in tangible ways, especially in a local context. In 2 Timothy 4, for instance, the Apostle Paul asks for Timothy to come minister to him while he was imprisoned.
1 Corinthians 12:26 says, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (English Standard Version). More information on the persecuted church and ways to get involved is available at Open Doors, an organization which also has a passion for supporting and strengthening the church all over the world.