10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV)
For the last few days, I’ve pondered about what to write about persecution. Lord, what would You have me write? Many of us, who have been blessed to live in the United States, are often ignorant of the persecution and crimes committed against Christians. We often, mistakenly think that the persecution of Christians and Jews is a thing of the past, but that is terribly foolish and wrong, for many of our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted, even now, as you read this message.
Indeed, I believe that there is coming a day, when even U.S. citizens will be persecuted for their faith in Christ. In fact, that day has already begun.
9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Mark 13:9-13 NKJV)
We are living in dangerous times. You don’t have to look far to see how children have turned against their parents, and parents have turned against their children. In other countries, we’ve seen how families from other beliefs, (Hindu, Buddhist, and Islam for example) have turned against their own loved ones, by disinheriting them, beating and torturing them, and even killing them, simply because they believe in Jesus.
The chart listed above, shows the statistics for 2018, for persecuted Christians around the world. It is eye opening, and if you are a child of God, then this should concern you, because those persecuted Christians are your brothers and sisters in Christ. I got this information from the following website:
According to these statistics, approximately 8 Christians die daily, for their faith, which totals 255 Christians monthly. For those who live in the U.S., can you imagine waking up each day, not knowing whether this is the day that someone will betray you for your faith in Christ? Can you imagine wondering, throughout the day, whether you may be murdered because you are a follower of Christ? The statistics tell us that 104 people each month, which is a little more than 3 people daily, are abducted for their faith. Imagine, being snatched from your home, your place of employment, or from the streets, because you are a Christian. As if this isn’t bad enough, 180 women are raped, sexually harassed, or forced into unwanted marriages every month. That’s 6 women who are raped, forced into unwanted, mostly abusive marriages and sexually harassed every day, just because they love Jesus. Imagine the fear, shame and pain that these women endure! 66 churches every month are attacked, and 160 Christians are arrested and imprisoned for their faith, without benefit of a trial.
Beloved reader, don’t just sigh and shake your head. Do you know that if you are a believer, you, too, may one day suffer persecution? I don’t share this with you to frighten you, but so that you won’t be caught unaware. Do you know that here, in the U.S., Christians are being sued for standing up for their faith, which is our first amendment right?
You don’t often hear about these things on broadcast news media outlets, or in most newspapers, because defending the rights of Christians is not part of their agenda. Instead, many are trying to silence Christians, because true believers refuse to embrace sinful lifestyles, such as abortion, adultery, fornication and homosexuality, to name just a few. Christians, such as our Vice-President, Mike Pence, are mocked and ridiculed for our beliefs.
Nonbelievers claim that Christians are narrow-minded and intolerant, and yet, they are the ones who are trying to silence us. All too often, debates end in name calling and false accusations. They do this because, “All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” (John 3:20 NLT)
Beloved, in these last days, don’t be shocked by the things that are happening in the world around you, and in your world. For Jesus warned us about this…
12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are My followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about Me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you.17 And everyone will hate you because you are My followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.” (Luke 21:12-19 NLT)
Indeed, my friend, I suggest that we shouldn’t be surprised that people hate us because of our faith. We should instead, be surprised by the ones who don’t hate us. So, what can we do about this persecution of God’s people? There is one thing that every one of us can do, no matter where we live, or what our circumstances are. We can pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are suffering. The Apostle Paul even let us know what to pray for our brothers and sisters, and so did the writer of Hebrews…
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should. (Ephesians 6:18-20 NLT)
Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. (Hebrews 13:3 NLT)
Jesus promised that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for His name’s sake, and that they will receive a great reward. Beloved, let’s be active in our prayers for our persecuted brethren, and remember, you or I could very well be the next one to be persecuted for our faith. And if, you or I do suffer from persecution one day, hold tight to Jesus’ promise, and may we have the same attitude that Peter had…
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12-19 NKJV)
Links to sites about Christian persecution:
Cheryl A. Showers