Since the death, burial and resurrection of our King Jesus, 43 million Christians have become martyrs
100 million Christians around the globe are currently suffering persecution because of their faith
Such suffering is mostly unknown to us here, and thus difficult for us to comprehend. Ignorance is easier, but we must be devoted to awareness, to remember the brothers and sisters in prison and those who are mistreated
But what do we do with this information? How do we respond?
1. don't waste your freedom
As you learn about the dangers of being a Christian in other parts of the world, remember how blessed we are to have the freedoms we do to share our faith. Let us honor those who die for their faith by dying to ourselves every day and taking full advantage of the freedom we have to preach Christ boldly.
2. pray for those facing persecution
We are never told to pray that persecution would stop, but that brothers and sisters would be strong and bold in the midst of it. The promise of Scripture and the testimony of history is that Christians are strengthened and the church is multiplied through the suffering of faithful followers. Persecution happens because people are acting as witnesses to the good news of Christ, and because people are coming to faith in Jesus. We clearly do not want either of these things to stop.
So what should we pray for?
- Pray like Paul did in Ephesians 3, that they may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being, and that in the midst of suffering, they might know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God
- Pray like Paul did in Ephesians 6, that they would have strength and courage to stand for the faith, that that words may be given to them in opening their mouths boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which many of them are ambassadors in chains, and that they may declare it boldly, as they ought to speak
- Pray that persecuted believers would have access to a Bible
- Pray that they have the courage to remain in their homeland
- Pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian "family" who loves them and supports them emotionally and physically
- Pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live