My news feed has never been more gruesome, laden with stories of Christians being abused or killed.
According to Open Door USA, persecution of Christians around the world has never been worse.
Persecution of believers has been happening since Bible times. With the ubiquity of the Internet, we’re just more keenly aware of it now than ever before.
One of the earliest victims of faith-based persecution was Paul. Ironically, the former Christian persecutor spent much of his time being oppressed or in prison after his miraculous salvation and call to ministry.
II Corinthians 4:8-9 and 18 says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Relevant Magazine’s recent feature, Christian Persecution Has Never Been Worse, had an eye-opening link to Open Doors’ World Watch List. This list identifies the top 50 countries persecuting Christians. While Islam and Christianity have long been at odds, a striking theme apparent in this year’s list is the Islamic extremism behind much of the persecution in 40 out of 50 of those countries.
We currently work in most of the countries listed—but cannot talk about the work for the safety of our partners on the ground. But here are a few stories we can share.
We can share that partners in West Africa are recovering from one of the enemy’s worst “unseen” attacks via the worst Ebola epidemic in the world to date. Programs in Liberia and Sierra Leone were forced to a screeching halt.
Despite the setback, faithful church partners are raring to get back to the field. They are opening their doors to Ebola orphans and families who lost loved ones and livelihoods to the devastations of the disease. Their audacious faith has them declaring that the aftermath from Ebola has hearts primed and ready to hear the message of Hope in Christ.
In French speaking Africa, fallout from the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and Islamic extremism that rose up just a few months ago resulted in unprecedented attacks.
One pastor from [country] sent us a disturbing account of young Muslims attacking his church building shouting “allahu akbar. God is great.” He watched them violently torch the pulpit, the congregation’s seating, destroy the building then blow up our ministry vehicle. He escaped to safety after hearing them asking where the pastor was so that they could find him and kill him next. More than 60 buildings were burned or destroyed, more than 40 people were injured and nearly a dozen killed during those attacks.
[***text removed 5/16 for safety of International partners***]
If we think living in this day and age is dangerous and violent, I anticipate things only going to get worse for believers. Pray for these hard places, and for the brave soldiers marching into battle to share the Good News!
For further reading:
- Kenya leader prescribes Christian response to extremist attacks
- 7 macro trends you need to know right now
- 5 most powerful prayers for any ministry