Persecuted church: Following becomes costly

With the 2013 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) being observed this coming Sunday, November 10, I’ve been ruminating about when following becomes costly, as in, risking one’s very life for faith in Christ.  

Imagine being confined, tortured, left destitute, or murdered simply because of your faith.  This is the daily reality for hundreds of thousands of Christians worldwide. 

persecuted church

In the book “World Christian Trends,” martyrs are defined as “believers in Christ who have lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility.”  A martyr is also described as someone who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle.

Pastor Kyle Idleman, author of the book “Not A Fan,” explains the difference between Christian “fans” and true followers:

Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them.  . . .  Jesus very clearly lays it out in Luke 9:23. He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” These words tend to separate fans from followers. Followers are to deny themselves and take up a cross. 

 Persecution separates the fans from the followers, the chaff from the wheat.  

What persecution looks like

 According to Christian Freedom International, the top 10 countries that persecute Christians are:

  1. North Korea
  2. Iran
  3. Pakistan
  4. Egypt
  5. China
  6. Saudi Arabia
  7. Nigeria
  8. Uzbekistan
  9. Vietnam
  10. Eritrea
church blast 2

Bomb blast at a church in Nigeria

  • Check out International Christian Concern’s interactive map of persecuted countries.
  • This graphic by World Watch List details the varying levels of persecution by country.
  • Of the more than 250 African migrants who drowned  a few weeks ago in the shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa, less than one mile from European soil, many were Eritrean Christians fleeing religious persecution.
  • Seven of every 10 Christians killed worldwide for their faith last year came from Nigeria, according to a report published earlier this year by the Jubilee Campaign.   The very act of going to church is a leap of faith in many states in Nigeria, due to the murderous threats of Boko Haram.
  • In Pakistan, Christians are often the victims of trumped up charges of desecrating the Quran, charges that often lead to execution.
  • Two American Christians, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae, are being held in barbaric conditions in Iran and North Korea, respectively, solely because of their faith.

What we can do to help

 Pray:  Amazingly, the main request from persecuted Christians is for prayer.  Voice of the Martyrs has a program called iCommitToPray and prayer posters to encourage intercession for the persecuted church.  


Write: Brother Andrew of Open Doors once said: “Our heroes are not with us simply because they are in prison.”  I’ve written letters to Christians who have been given long prison sentences for their faith.  Also, International Christian Concern often petitions Congress regarding the plight of the persecuted church.

Advocate:  Tell others about the persecuted church.  Many believers in the West have no concept of what is at stake.  Encourage your church to be more proactive in supporting the persecuted church.

Give:  Persecution severely dislocates families, not just geographically but financially and socially.  To get back on their feet, they need resources.

Had you heard about IDOP before? How has learning about the persecuted church motivated you?


  1. I had no idea about these stories, so I appreciate you sharing them. So scary to imagine what it must be like for those people to be held captive.-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..Just Call Me Tony DanzaMy Profile

    • We can only imagine. The horror stories that come out are just the tip of the iceberg. The ability of humans to cause others pain is incomprehensible sometimes, Ashley.

  2. I haven’t heard of this day before, but I will be letting those I know, know about it. I knew it was bad for us Christians out there, but looking at the map really brings it home. A priest came to visit us a few weeks ago, and told us what happened to his friend (a fellow priest) and how he was burned at the stake, as well as a sister who was raped, all because of the faith that the believe in. Crazy times we live in today!
    KalleyC recently posted..My Baby Turned 1My Profile

  3. I’ve heard of the national Day of prayer, but not the IDOP, but it totally makes sense. There is a huge difference between a fan and follower of Christ. I pray that I have the boldness to proclaim Christ even if it means persecution. Continue to do your part by praying and bringing awareness.
    Hope recently posted..Bye-bye aftercare, hello car-lineMy Profile

  4. I have heard of IDOP before but definitely not the depth of it’s meaning. Wow to the core about just going to church being a leap of faith.
    Kenya G. Johnson recently posted..Pinterest Recipes: A Needle in a Haystack…My Profile

  5. I haven’t heard of IDOP but I will make sure to specifically pray in this regard!
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  6. Thanks, Joi! Prayer is the key in this struggle.
    Alison recently posted..Persecuted church: Following becomes costlyMy Profile

  7. I have never heard of this so I thank you for bringing it to our attention. I will pray for sure.
    Tamara recently posted..The Truth Is, I’m Just Not Feeling It.My Profile

  8. This pains me, but I’ve never heard of the organization only the actually persecution that has been happening since Christ died. You are so right! “Christians” in the west have absolutely no concept of this. I believe wholeheartedly that many are not true disciples and for reasons that you mentioned above. We are waiting to be persecuted here because the prophecies of the endtimes show that we true believers have been and will continue to be, but I think the fact that the US is not even in the top 10 speaks volumes. We need to wake up. Are we truly the followers of Christ that the Apostles and Jesus talked about in the Bible or have we created our own personal Jesus that really doesn’t exist? Unfortunately for many in the US, I believe it has become the later. 🙁
    Brittnei recently posted..Hope Is Where My Heart Is…My Profile

  9. Like Hope, I too pray that I will have the faith to stand if faced with persecution. I think that many of us think we are safe and that I can never happen to us. I pray because I know it can. Many of our brethren who are held captive left their homes simply to share their faith. I am looking forward to another mission trip to Africa, who knows what fate may await, so I pray for the faith and grace to stand.

    • I hear you, Fab. It is strong delusion to think it can’t happen here. Truth be told, more subtle forms of persecution, and some more blatant ones, are already occurring here in the good ole USA. It’s not a far-fetched notion that it won’t happen here. We stay prayed up and alert!

  10. I have never heard of any of this. Unwavering faith and beliefs make martyrs martyrs. I don’t know that I’m where I need or want to be but I am very happy to proclaim that I’m more than a “fan” of Christ. Thanks for bringing this to the surface for folks like me who had no idea. Something to think about. Something to do.
    Andrea recently posted..Dangers Seen & UnseenMy Profile

  11. Oh this breaks my heart in pieces… and it convicts my heart as well. I bought that book “Not a fan” and have yet to read it. It sounds incredibly profound and just what I need to read.

    Thank you once again, for enlightening me- us- everyone- on something so devastatingly real and chilling that we are too protected from in our sweet little safe places. I will share and pray… and look into this more deeply.

    You are amazing. And these Christians- who give their life? Followers indeed.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Count Your BlessingsMy Profile

    • That’s true, Chris. We are in a little bubble when it comes to what it really costs to follow Christ in other, more hostile nations. It truly is chilling. I feel in particular for the families of those pastors who have gone missing or have been killed. It takes a lot to remain faithful when your loved one is gone, and under such terrible circumstances!
      Alison recently posted..Persecuted church: Following becomes costlyMy Profile

  12. Wow Alison!! You really put it in perspective my friend! We complain about the most mundane things while our brothers and sisters in Christ are being tortured for their belief in Him! These are our modern day “disciples” and they should be commended for “truly” walking out Luke 9:23! AS always, THANK YOU my friend for giving us a BIG REALITY CHECK! Blessings Ali!!
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  13. That anyone would be persecuted for their faith is devastating. As Americans we easily forget that our freedom of religion is not the norm in other parts of the world. Thank you for reminding me of that.
    Dana recently posted..The delusions of youthMy Profile

  14. Alison, I appreciate you bringing to the forefront topics that we don’t have discuss. As an American it’s hard for me to even imagine the persecution believers face in other countries. Although it seems that the US is becoming more hostile toward people of faith. Not A Fan is book I have in my TBR pile.
    Wanda recently posted..Inspiring Reads | The Friday FiveMy Profile

    • I saw Not A Fan yesterday in Family Christian Stores. I’ve been meaning to read it in its entirely. I was attracted to the promotional video the author put out and how it spoke to what I see as a sad reality in American Christianity. And yes, the hostility here in the USA is growing. One only has to see the fight against Christmas to get a clue. SMH.
      Alison recently posted..International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church My Profile

  15. I have heard of the prayer day but not this. I need to look up more information this, why do people have to be ridiculed for what they believe *sigh*
    Kita recently posted..Its Selfie TimeMy Profile

  16. I must say I have never heard of IDOP or any of these stories before reading this post. It’s so sad that people in other countries are persecuted so heavily for being a part of the Christian faith. Along with praying, I will be sharing this information with my family, friends, and members of my church family. This is unreal 🙁
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  17. I had not heard of IDOP. It’s unfathomable to me how much religious persecution there has been since the beginning of time and that it continues on today. It’s difficult to understand how the human race can be so intelligent and yet be so intolerant in spite of that intelligence.
    Michelle recently posted..A Sense of Fair PlayMy Profile

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