Persecution is simply a reality for Christians in this fallen age. Paul said, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12). While we here in America face softer forms of persecution such as pressure to conform to the world and slander, our brothers and sisters around the world face much harsher forms of persecution like poverty, shunning, imprisonment, and death.
Open Doors USA, a Christian persecution watch group, estimates that every month somewhere in the world 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 violent acts such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages are committed against Christians. Christians face the most extreme persecution in the nations of South Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
What should you and I do in the face of these atrocities?
- Educate yourself on the reality of persecution. Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors USA are two watch groups that offer in-depth and accurate information on Christian persecution. Their websites are excellent!
- Pray for the persecuted! Pray the persecution will cease, but if not, pray they’ll endure or escape the persecution.
- Advocate for the persecuted. Call upon our government to intervene in these humanitarian situations.
- Prevent the persecution if possible. While there is some gray area concerning a Christian’s use of lethal force in the midst of persecution, we can always help the persecuted to flee. One way to do this indirectly is to receive these Christians as refugees here in America.
- Evangelize the persecutors. Pray that these persecutors will have their hearts softened and be converted to Jesus. God may call you to personally witness to these persecutors, but most likely you will join the effort to evangelize persecutors by giving financially to missionary efforts like our International Mission Board who sends men and women into these persecuted countries with the gospel.
- Trust that God is going to bring good out of persecution. Remember that the faithful persecuted receive special reward in Heaven, and here on earth, to borrow a phrase from the early church father Tertullian, God often uses the blood of the martyrs as seed for the spread and growth of the gospel.
How long, O Lord, until you avenge your persecuted saints? Only God knows, but until then, may we be faithful in our own persecution and vigilant in the persecution of others!