International (ODM/MNN) — The murder last week of an Illinois pastor
It's not a common occurrence in the U.S., but
Open Doors says deadly violence against believers
around the world occurs on a daily basis.
"Most Christians in the United States don't know this kind of violence
happens every day in some restrictive countries around the world…places like
Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan. And the attacks are directed against
Christians. They are caught in the crossfire," says Open Doors USA
President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller.
"People don't think that kind of persecution
could happen in the U.S., but it is starting to happen. That's why we must
unite in prayer with our brothers and sisters around the world."
On the same day Rev. Fred Winters, the pastor of the First
Baptist Church of Maryville, was killed, a village pastor in India's Bihar
State was seriously wounded when an attacker tried to kill him to stop him from
preaching the Gospel.
Police Inspector Hari Krishna
Mandal told Compass Direct News that the attacker, Rajesh Singh, had come fully
prepared to kill the pastor, Vinod Kumar, and then take his own life. Church
members caught Singh before he could kill himself or others.
A week ago, Compass Direct News reported a gun and club
attack on a Presbyterian church and neighboring homes in the predominantly-Christian area of a village in Pakistan. One woman was killed and 16 people
Open Doors estimates 100 million Christians are being
persecuted for their faith in Christ. Torture,
imprisonment, harassment and murder are all directed towards Christians.
"Last month Open Doors released its annual World Watch List
of 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution," says
Moeller. "It was headed by North Korea again, followed by Saudi Arabia and
Iran. Those countries are always among the top persecutors.
"Could the United States be listed there some day? Perhaps.
On Monday March 12, a study revealed the number of people calling themselves
Christians in the U.S. has significantly dropped over the last two decades. We
need to be on our guard to protect our precious freedom of religion in the U.S.
and advocate for those who don't share our freedom. We also need to be ready to
share our faith, no matter what the cost."
Keep praying for the church leaders working in restrictive