Middle East (MNN) — It’s been noted multiple times by multiple sources: the persecution of Christians is rising.
Just last week, Pope Francis called attention to persecution while speaking to crowds in Rome.
“There are more martyrs [now] than in the first centuries,” he said, referring to the Age of Martyrs: during the Church’s first 300 years of existence, Jewish leaders and Roman emperors called for widespread slaughter of Christ-followers.
Of all religious groups, Christians do face the most persecution, acknowledges Jonathan Fox in a recent blog for the U.S. Council on Foreign Affairs. Fox heads up the Religion and State Project, which has studied worldwide religious freedom since 1990.
Furthermore, “Of the 30 specific types of limitations tracked by the Religion and State Project,” Fox writes, “28 are now more common than in 1990.”
Referencing a July debate in the UK about religious freedom, The Guardian quotes former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “”Religious freedom is about our common humanity, and we must fight for it if we are not to lose it.
“This, I believe, is the issue of our time.”
Does this widely-available knowledge about increasing persecution require action? If so, from whom?
“If we are being shaped to be more conformed to the image of Christ, number one: we care for our brothers and sisters in the Lord–whether they’re sitting in the pews next to us on a Sunday service, or they’re on the other side of the planet,” declares Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI).
“We are one body.”
What can we do about persecution?
Firstly, and most importantly, pray.
- Ask the Lord to strengthen and encourage His followers who are facing persecution.
- Pray that the global Body of Christ will mobilize to help their brothers and sisters in need.
- Pray for wisdom for FMI leaders as they assess needs and allocate resources to the pastors and church leaders they help.
But that doesn’t mean smaller ministries like FMI are excluded from the ramifications of persecution. Right now, thousands of ISIS-supporters are rallying in one of Pakistan’s provinces, ready to wage jihad for the caliphate.
Though the ISIS threat is growing, it’s not detracting indigenous pastors from their mission.
“Our leaders’ focus–while they have to be watching what’s happening in the world around them–is to say, ‘How can we be light in such a dark place?’” shares Allen.
FMI supports indigenous pastors and church planters through thick and thin. That means FMI is standing united with believers when they face persecution in Muslim-majority communities.
“How does an injured body take care of itself?” Allen asks. “If a human body has an injured knee, the healthy hand that is on that body still takes care of that knee.
“That’s what we do in the Body of Christ: we come alongside of our brothers and sisters in other places and care for them in physical, spiritual, emotional ways.”
For example, in Pakistan, FMI operates a safe house ministry that shelters persecuted believers.
“What we try to do is provide a good environment for [the] new believer to be nurtured and discipled,” said Allen when describing the safe house ministry in July.
“Just because a government or society is closed to the Gospel, we should never believe the people are closed.”
Visit FMI’s Web site to find out how your partnership can help Kingdom workers in Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.