Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pray for Persecuted Christians

There have likely always been—and perhaps always shall be—persecuted Christians. No one knew this better than our Founder, Jesus himself. In his Sermon on the Mount and/or Plain, he raised the bar very high for all of his would-be followers: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt 5:11-12) “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.” (Lk 6:22-23)
   What a strange upside-down world/realm Jesus describes here. I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time rejoicing and being glad and leaping for joy when I feel or actually am: persecuted, reviled, am the subject of all kinds of evil being uttered against me falsely on Jesus’ account, am hated, excluded and defamed on account of the Son of Man. How about you? Perhaps you’re a much better, more faithful Christian than I. Jesus’ words here seem to me well nigh impossible to obey. Yet, there have been some “saints” and/or “martyrs” who have purportedly lived up to Jesus’ teachings regarding persecution. In fact, the martyrs were very popular in the ancient church; story after story has been recorded and transmitted for the edification of the faithful.
   However, of late I have become rather troubled and annoyed by the lack of coverage of the Western secular press and yes, even organisations like Amnesty International—of which I’ve been a member for about 27 years now—who seem to be turning a blind eye and/or are minimalizing the current “war and/or ‘open season’ on Christians” around the globe. According to one commentator on the subject, who claims to have travelled extensively in 53 countries that persecuted Christians; there were up to two million slain in southern Sudan by the Muslim north that even folks like the Pew Forum discount.
   Speaking of the Pew Forum, they claim that between 2006 and 2010, Christians living in 139 nations of the world—almost three-quarters of the world’s nations—faced some form of discrimination. The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, state that an average of 100,000 Christians have been killed in what they describe as ‘situations of witness’ each year for the past decade. If that is the case, then 11 Christians are being killed somewhere on the earth every hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for their faith.  
   No, Christians are not living with a martyr complex. No, Christians are not fantasizing stories about martyrdom. No, Christians are not exaggerating. What is true is that stories about Christians being persecuted have been extremely UNDER REPORTED.
   In the meantime, what can you do about it? Well, for starters PRAY. Pray for Christians who are being persecuted and the families of those who have lost their loved ones because they were martyred, murdered and/or tortured senselessly. You can find information on praying for the persecuted Christians here.  You can also be informed by reading articles like this one in The Spectator

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