“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” – Hebrews 13:3
The call to remember those who are persecuted for Christ’s sake is pretty strong. The passage doesn’t just say to pray for them, or to work for their release, but to remember them as though we were in prison ourselves. As the passage makes clear, if one part of the body of Christ suffers, then the whole body should consider that suffering their own. What does this mean practically? I’m not sure I have an exhaustive list, but if I was imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel, here are some of the things I would desire:
1) Prayer for my release.
2) The use of every available government and diplomatic channel to work for my release.
3) Prayer that God would use my time in confinement for the purpose of His Kingdom.
4) People who would care for my family when I could not.
5) Books to read.
7) Visits and encouragement from those who were not so confided.
8) Information about what was happening in the outside world.
9) Letters from those who could not visit.
10) Access to biblical teaching to continue growing in my faith
As I look through the list I realize that it is far too easy to hear about those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ, and set it aside as something that happens in a place far, far from home. Yet, the body of Christ is not bound my geographic boundaries or locational proximities. And I must ask myself – when I hear about those who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel, do I respond as if it was my own suffering that was at stake? Am I bringing their needs before the throne room of God as I would if my loved one was in their place? That’s what this passage in Hebrews calls us to do. That’s what our Savior commands.