Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10
When Jesus sent His disciples into the world to preach the gospel, He warned that it would not be easy. They would be like sheep among wolves, others would hand them over to the local governments to be flogged, their families would reject them and have them killed, and they would be hated for His name’s sake. (See Matthew 10:16-23 for starters.). Jesus said, “Go!” and they went. History tells us they faced every bit of persecution Jesus warned about.
Christians still face persecution today in many countries around the world including intimidation, threats, economic discrimination, kidnapping, beatings, imprisonment, torture, and death. By one estimate, over 100,000 Christians are martyred annually. That’s over 8000 per month or 275 per day. (2011 Report, “Christianity 2011: Martyrs and the Resurgence of Religion,” compiled by Todd M. Johnson, David. B Barrett and Peter F. Crossing)
What can you do?
1. Pray for those who are being persecuted. This Sunday, November 3, has been designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Ask God to give grace and strength to those who are daily being pressured to deny Him.
2. Educate yourself and support missions organizations that are working to help those who are being persecuted worldwide. Two good places to start are:
- Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) – http://www.persecution.com– founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who experienced a total of 14 years of prison, torture, deprivation, etc. at the hands of the Communist government of Romania and wrote the book Tortured For Christ.
- Open Doors – www.opendoorsusa.org – established in 1955 by Brother Andrew whose book God’s Smuggler told of his decades smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. Open Doors compiles an annual watch list of countries where persecution is the fiercest.