Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We’ve seen crackdowns on Christianity (and other religions) in China. A recent report detailed testimonies of the atrocities against Christians in North Korea. Nigeria, which is fairly evenly split between Christians and Muslims has seen increasing hostility towards Christian in certain regions of that country. And in recent weeks in France, we’ve seen attacks against Christians. In the city of Nice, three people were stabbed to death this week.
According to Open Doors:
- Over 260 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution
- 2,983 Christians killed for their faith
- 9,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked
- 3,711 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned
The reality of persecution should not surprise Christians. The New Testament repeatedly talks of the inevitable opposition for those who follow Christ. In 2 Timothy 3:12, the Apostle Paul says: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).
And there are numerous other scriptures that could be referenced. The gospel is offensive to the world because it confronts people with their sin. It’s offensive to the world because it points to one way to heaven. It’s offensive because it takes man’s own goodness out of the equation for what justifies a person before God.
In America, we’re blessed to enjoy a rich history of faith and constitutional protections. But we should regularly pray for those who are persecuted for their faith.
I also think it’s important in America to appreciate the religious freedoms that we have. As we’re in the final days before the presidential election, I do see fears from some Evangelical Christians about persecution or limitations on churches if Joe Biden is elected president. While I appreciate that there are things Joe Biden supports which are totally against Christianity, I think doomsday fears of the purge on American Christianity are also an overreach.
Yes, Christians should always be attentive of what’s happening and vigilant to preserve and protect our rights. But I also think it’s important to remember the people who truly suffer for their faith, and who’s lives are truly endangered for following the Lord Jesus.
Lord, on this international day of prayer for the persecuted church, we pray for those who are persecuted for the cause of Christ. Just this week, there were attacks on churches in France. Persecution is on the rise in many parts of the world. Lord, we pray for those who worship you at a great cost to themselves, their families, their livelihoods, and their lives. Lord, may you be near to them. Lord may those people never been far from our hearts and minds. Lord, in spite of man’s attempts to thwart your gospel, we pray for the work of pastors and evangelists in these hostile places. May the word go forth. May the truth be preached. May the message of Christ crucified be proclaimed and believed. In Jesus’ name, amen.