Saturday, March 14, 2015

Christian Persecution is a Reality!

When I was young, my family and I actively supported the ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that raises awareness about and lends aid to persecuted Christians around the world. I used to have a VOM T-shirt that read "It didn't end at the Roman Collaseum: Christians Still Die!" I memorized Hebrews 13:3 which commands us to "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."

We are so amazingly blessed in the United States to be able to meet freely with other believers to worship, to be able to choose to attend the church of our choosing, to be able to own and read the Bible in our native language, and all without fear. Yes there are issues in our time in the USA that are oppressive (those who want no prayer in Jesus' name at public gatherings, threats to criminalize preaching against certain sinful lifestyles, etc.), all these are quite mild compared to what countless Christian believers have had to face down through time and are yet still facing in many other lands today.

For many the decision to follow Christ comes with a signed death warrant. Meeting together with other believers is rare and must be done with the most strategic secrecy. Baptism is very risky and must often take place at night. If a copy of the Bible is to be had at all, it is kept carefully hidden and guarded with a believer's very life. It may sound like something from a fictional story or an action movie, but persecution is reality for many of our brothers and sisters. And we are not ever promised exemption. If trends continue as they have in this country for the past few decades, this could be reality for our children and grandchildren some day, should the Lord tarry.

In Matthew 10, Jesus warned His disciples as He was sending them out to ministry that just as He would be misunderstood and mistreated, so would they.

He warns them of the possibility of arrest, scourgings, ridicule, and death all for being one of His followers. He does not promise a life of ease and peace for believers. In Matthew 10:34 He says, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I am not come to send peace, but a sword."

He warns that there will be many who will not accept the disciples and their preaching because they do not accept Jesus either.

In v. 28, He tells His disciples, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

But He does promise in v. 31 that He cares deeply for us, and in v. 39 "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Many brave Christian believers down through time have bravely believed these promises, courageously followed Christ regardless of the cost, and faced persecution with amazing boldness and unshakeable faith.

May we look for ways to stand with our persecuted family around the world. Let's follow their examples of bravery and faith, lift them up in prayer, and come to their aid whenever possible.

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