Dear Pastors and Mission Leaders,
Greetings in Christ. The topic of Christian persecution is an important topic to talk about. Recently, I have preached on this topic and wanted to share some of the highlights that I have shared in those churches. November 4th, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Please remember persecuted Christians on this day.
Scripture to ponder: What did Jesus say about persecution? Read from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:10-12, 44. Read John 15:20, 16:2-3. From the book of Acts, read Acts 4 and the prayer of the church. Read Acts 7:56-8:4 about the death of Stephen by religious leaders and the church being scattered. Read Acts 12:1-3 about the role of Herod, the king, and how he persecuted the church. Read 2 Timothy 3:12, as the Apostle Paul states, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” This is an amazing statement from a former persecutor to now one who was persecuted for his faith.
What is happening in the world? First, Joel Rosenberg shared good news as he talked about the State Department’s conference on advancing religious freedom. Saudi Arabia has no churches yet but has given foreign nationals more freedom to gather in private homes for worship and Bible study. Extremist preachers have been fired from the Mosques. United Arab Emirates now has some 700 churches that meet freely and without fear of government persecution. In Jordan, King Abdullah II granted land along the Jordan River so 13 Christian denominations could build churches and baptize Christians. In Egypt, under the leadership of President El-Sisi, every church that was destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood has now been rebuilt, and 6,500 churches have applied for permission to operate legally; over 1,000 have been granted approval already.
Now for more difficult news: India is now #10 in rank for top persecuted Christians. China now has facial recognition and automated intelligence to track Christians. Chinese youth cannot convert until they are 18. Sunday schools and youth programs are being stopped. To read more about trends and statistics, be sure and read Open Doors’ World Watch List 2019.
How should we respond:
1) Read books on the topic, such as Killing Christians by Tom Doyle; These are the Generations by Eric Foley, which talks about North Korea; or Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef, which shares a story of conversion by a radical member of Hamas.
2) Be informed. Go to the Open Doors website or to persecution.com by Voice of the Martyrs. Read Mission Network News, which has daily commentary about Christians.
3) Pray for persecuted believers daily. Adopt a terrorist for prayer.
4) Memorize Scripture about persecution, specifically Matthew 5:10-12.
5) Remember to pray for the persecuted church on November 4th.