This last weekend many churches around the world took time to remember those believers who are being persecuted for their faith. Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago joined them. Many people don't realize the extent of the persecution that many face. I wanted to share with you some of the stats that were given to us. Since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, over 43 million Christians have become martyrs for Christ, and half of these were in the last century alone. More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day. 60% of them are children. Every day, 300 people are killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.
These stats are staggering when we think of what we face here in North America.
We need to remember those brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering. The writer of Hebrews writes, "Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." (Heb.13:3)
Very often the prisons that many of these believers are kept in are very unlike anything that we see here in North America. They are kept in very poor conditions. How often do I stop and consider the horrendous conditions that my fellow brothers and sisters are put in because of their faith? Sadly, not often at all. My challenge to you is to remember your brothers and sisters around the world who are being put under such terrible persecution. Please remember to pray for them. You can goto www.harvestbiblechapel.org to download prayer guides. You can also find out more about the persecution that believers are facing at the following websites: www.persecution.com; www.opendoorsusa.org; www.kidsofcourage.com; www.gmi.org/ow.
One of the families from our church had traveled to India this last year and they shared about a Christian orphanage that they had visited. In the last year the orphanage had underwent persecution by the Hindus. They imprisoned the leaders of the orphanage for 40 days. The prison was dark and conditions were terrible. The Hindus then told the children that they must worship their gods now. One of the older children spoke up and told the children to stay strong and worship only the one true God. The Hindus deprived the children of food for days to try and get them to recant and bow down to their gods. After having no food for several days they told the kids that if they just would bow down to their gods they could have the oranges that they held out in the palm of their hands. The kids took the oranges...and then they threw them back at them and said that they must worship only one God, Jesus Christ. What a testimony! The leaders were eventually returned, but they continue to be hassled by the Hindu people who are trying to get them to recant of their position of holding to only one true God.
My prayer is that you would be bolder in your own faith by reading about these young children. They aren't caught up in the things of this world. They live for Christ everyday, not knowing if tomorrow will be their last. We experience our share of ridicule and mockery in North America, but what is that compared to someone hearing the good news of Jesus Christ and being saved from eternity in hell. This is something that I believe the persecuted believers understand that we often lose sight of. Life is short and we need to take every opportunity to share Christ with those around us.
I have been reading through Isaiah lately. As I read through it, I have been reminded in a new and powerful way that God is sovereign over all of this earth. Evil will not prevail! God will put an end to all of it someday soon and He will reign upon this earth as King! Isaiah 24 is a gripping reminder of the power and sovereign control that the Lord has over all the earth.
So pray for the persecuted, pray for their protection (Romans 15:30-32), pray that God would give them the words to fearlessly make Christ known (Eph.6:19,20, Col.4:2-4), pray that they will rejoice that they are considered worthy to share in the sufferings of Jesus (Heb.10:34; 1 Pet.4:13; Acts 5:41) and that they will remember their unbelievable future glory and love Christ's appearing all the more (Rom.8:18; 2 Tim.4:5-8; Rev.12:11).