“One in every nine Christians in the world lives in an area, or in a culture, in which Christianity is illegal, forbidden, or punished. That’s a 14 percent increase over the previous year.” – The latest report on global persecution by Open Doors USA.
Every Sunday, Christians in North America gather for worship (online during the pandemic). We sing. We pray. We give. We listen to a message. With rare exceptions, we do this in complete safety, never thinking someone would want to do harm to us for our faith. Yet, that is not the case around the world. It is estimated that approximately 300 Christians die each month simply because they believe in Jesus. That’s nearly 11 every day.
These numbers are heart-breaking. And yet, they do not tell the whole story. Persecution is now truly global. There are many reasons why Christians are persecuted. Sometimes, religion may be tied to ethnic or cultural identity. In other places, governments who thrive on power view Jesus as competition and those who follow Him as threats. Still, other areas put such a high value on their majority religion that any other faith is seen as something to be rooted out and violently oppressed. From Somalia to India, from Nigeria to North Korea, from Iran to Pakistan, followers of Christianity are targeted for their faith. They are attacked; they are discriminated against at work and at school; they risk violence, torture, arrest, and much more.
Most of us reading this know this: We know that persecution happens, but we probably don’t know what Christians all over the globe are experiencing because of their faith in Jesus Christ. We need to know.
The writer of Hebrews tells us this in Hebrews 13:3 (TPT), “Identify with those who are in prison as though you were there suffering with them, and those who are mistreated as if you could feel their pain.” God has called us to remember and support those suffering through persecution. Please pray that these believers will not only stay committed to the call of Christ but also will respond in love to the evil shown by their aggressors.
Pray and ask God to comfort families who many times do not receive updates about their loved ones and are not allowed to visit, or it’s simply not safe enough to do so. Pray they, too, will remain faithful to the calling God has placed on their lives.
And pray that world leaders would do all they can to fight this persecution. Pray God would stir their hearts, and they would not only draft but enact the necessary policies and procedures to make a lasting, global difference.