“And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12
I will assume that by now you have seen news footage of genocide and persecution in the Middle East. This morning I heard a man ask, “What is our world coming to?” And, although I understand his emotional sentiment, his line of questioning is historically narrow and culturally egocentric. Persecution is not new. Paul promised it to those who really live in Christ.
Our American eyes are passively, and often gladly, averted from the true suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world. Justin D. Long, a mission’s expert from Act Beyond, wrote an article emphasizing the startling fact that more people have died for their faith in the Twentieth Century than in the previous 1800 years of the Church age. He writes, “During this century, we have documented cases in excess of 26 million martyrs. From AD 33 to 1900, we have documented 14 million martyrs.”
In six years, over 1.3 million Christians and minorities were killed in Sudan. “Sudan is characterized by the total or near complete absence of civil liberties,” said Christian activist Nina Shea, during the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
From 1971 to 1979 Uganda’s Idi Amin, the self-proclaimed, “President of Life” took the lives of over 500,000 Christians to set up the Islamic State of Uganda.
Paul Marshall wrote, “Their Blood Cries Out” in which he documented the execution of over two million Christians between 1905 and 1918 by the Turkish Empire; a fact that the Turkish government still denies.
It is still unknown exactly how many Christians have suffered and are suffering under the hands of Soviet and Chinese communism, or how many Latin American Indians have died in South American nations.
And, now today social media has brought the truth to your eyes. Desperate images of children beheaded, the elderly deserted, and family men strung upon crosses in mock mimicry of their faithful Savior.
And, do not be fooled. It is not by chance that every, “Beheading video” should first provide a, “Denial of Christ” and, “Acceptance of Islam.” For, if these men dared post videos of the thousands who whispered, “Christ” as the sword fell, there would be instantaneous worldwide revival. Even if one true martyr video haphazardly left their barracks by midnight stream, the world would be instantly encouraged and edified! Yet, Satan is deceitful and with too many wiles – So, let us not be overwhelmed at the seeming pains and losses, for although the true pictures do not make it to our eyes, the hallowed halls of faith continue to fill!
Do not be surprised and do not be ignorant. Instead, be expectant, prayerful, and helpful…
Expectant means that you take the words of Christ seriously, “And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me…” (Matthew 10:39) Your expectant mind will carry the commands of Christ with you and look forward constantly to the hope of His appearing. Your expectant mind will not take it’s own freedom for granted but instead walk boldly, redeeming the time, storing up treasures in heaven, and bringing the King glory at every turn.
Prayerful means that you will, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Certainly, as you read the articles of your isolated, insulted, and injured Christian family, now is the time to weep! It is the moment to kneel and cry out for them and with reverence take them before the throne of grace, requesting they be granted reprieve for sustenance and strength for ministry.
Helpful means that you will support organizations which walk alongside your persecuted family. Is it not a joy to be a participant in God’s relief of His children? Is it not mere mercy that you’re in the first-world, able to be a channel of His good? You are not an owner of your life, you are but a manager, and one day the records of heaven will show how you’ve invested the King’s blessings! As a Church, we partner with Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com), Open Doors (www.opendoorsusa.org), and W4A (www.word4asia.com), to take light into the darkest of places. Join us.