International (MNN) — Following an unprecedented rise of violence against religious communities and religious minorities, including Christians, the United Nations’ General Assembly set aside August 22 as the “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”.
Co-sponsors of the new resolution include Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, and the United States. Ironically, five of the nine co-sponsors are on the World Watch List*.
Christians Heavily Persecuted
Numerous sources have reported how Christians are the most persecuted group in the world. In May, the BBC News released a report titled Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels’. But, this is not new. In 2016, the Center for Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary discovered 240 Christians die each day for their beliefs.
Samuel, of Redemptive Stories, puts it this way: “Christians are martyred every six minutes for their faith. That persecution is often [the] everyday situation for Christians around the world and needs to be vocally addressed around the world.”
Yet, low media interest keeps that story from gaining traction, in addition to a fuzzy understanding of what persecution actually is.
And, rather than nurturing a global Church perspective, some Christians in the West have knotted nationalism with their faith. In doing so, they alienate themselves from their Christian brothers and sisters abroad.
Samuel says, “When I come back to the United States and I interact with people, I feel like they believe that even the Republican anti-abortion Congressman — even though he’s unbelieving — is more their brother than their dear sweet brother that lives in Pakistan. There’s a nation-hood connection that seems to trump our Christian-hood connection.”
As many Western Christians live unaware of the persecution the global Church faces, the term has somewhat lost the weight it should carry. To persecute, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically: to cause to suffer because of belief.”
For example, being ridiculed for believing in and holding to biblical values, while sometimes uncomfortable, is not the same level of persecution Christians outside the West face. For them, persecution can be life-threatening.
“To claim victimhood for us in the West — being ridiculed for our faith for being ridiculed for having difficult values or biblical standard — to compare that to losing one’s life for one’s faith, I think that that is a comparison that does not need to be made,” Samuel explains.
“We live in that comfortable context. We need to be stretched out of that context.”
Redemptive Stories exists to tell the stories of Christians across the globe who face persecution. The ministry’s purpose is to make others aware of the grave challenges the Church faces each day. But it also connects Christians from around the world. In the age of technology and information, there are few excuses for remaining unaware of the persecution Christians abroad experience.
Responding With Prayer
While acknowledging persecution can overwhelm or leave non-persecuted Christians feeling helpless, Samuel encourages involvement through intentional and intelligent prayer.
Pray for the persecuted Church and the people Redemptive Stories serves. Ask God to make Himself clearly known in the lives of those facing threats for following Jesus. Pray for encouragement, perseverance, and peace despite circumstances for our persecuted brothers and sisters.
*The World Watch List (WWL) by Open Doors USA ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous to live as a Christian. Find the WWL here.
Header photo courtesy of James L.W via Unsplash.