Isn’t it amazing how many liberties we take for granted?
For example, I presume daily that I will travel to and from my home, go to work, share my faith, and attend church services without fear or intimidation.
Such presumption is not an option, however, for hundreds of thousands of Christians worldwide.
A History of Violence
In this past century alone, an estimated 200 million Christians were murdered for their faith. That figure is higher than that of any other century in human history.
Jeff King, President of International Christian Concern, notes that “from Indonesia, to India, to the Horn of Africa, believers are economically marginalized, denied education for their children, beaten, tortured, raped, imprisoned, and, sadly, even murdered for their faith. The oppression is limitless, and usually unseen by the world.”
There are countries on each continent in which a relentless war is waged against anyone who professes to be a Christian.
In some places, particularly in the Middle and Far East, the war is open, aided and abetted by the political and religious leadership.
The burning of churches, torching of villages in which Christians are the predominant religious group, imprisonment and torture of pastors and lay preachers, and establishment of second-class citizenship for Christians is commonplace.
In other countries, the attacks are more insidious and harder to fight. The lack of tolerance for Christians, even here in America today, gives one pause.
A Sleeping Bride
Many would struggle to reconcile the prosperity gospel with the loss of freedom, property, and sometimes life that fellow believers face through persecution. If God’s plan is to make us all wealthy and to give us whatever we ask for, how do we explain the fate of believers who lose it all for Christ?
- Iranian Pastor Youcef Naderkhani has been sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity and refusing to recant his faith in Christ.
- Pakistani mother of five Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death for allegedly blaspheming the name of Muhammad. She languishes in a cell not much bigger than a bathroom stall. Two high-level Pakistani officials who spoke out in her favor were assassinated.
- Young Christian girls are forced to marry Muslim men and recant their Christian faith. According to Father Filopateer Gamil of St. Mary’s Church in Giza, Egypt, the number of Christian girls abducted and coerced into converting to Islam since the Arab Spring revolution that began almost a year ago has skyrocketed.
- And in Nigeria, the number of Christians killed in vicious attacks this year continues to rise.
Few issues grab my heart more than the plight of Christians who are persecuted for their faith. With the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) set for this Sunday, November 13, may more of us commit to pray for our persecuted Christian siblings and to take positive steps to help them.
How do you plan to help the persecuted?