International (MNN) — 2010 saw an increase in persecution for many countries. On the Open Doors' World Watch List report, Iraq moved from the 17th-worst country for persecution to the 8th. Turkey moved from a spot at 35 to 30, Pakistan from 14 to 11, and Vietnam from 21 to 18.
Unfortunately, things in 2011 have not gotten much better.
Global Advance trains Christian pastors, leaders, and business owners across the globe. Throughout their work, former president David Shibley says they've noticed a shift in 2011.
"We do believe there's a spike in resistance to the Gospel, and in persecution of believers worldwide," says Shibley. "I think that's undeniable with the reports that we're receiving from many parts of the world."
From the assassinations of Christian leaders in Pakistan, to bombings of churches in Egypt, to the murders of believers in Ivory Coast, persecution is ramping up in 2011. However counter-intuitive it may be, persecution is actually an indicator that the church is doing something right.
"The reason that persecution is increasing worldwide is because the numbers of people coming to Christ are increasing in many of the volatile areas of the world," explains Shibley.
Iran's Christians are facing some of the most severe persecution on the planet. Iran ranks second on the World Watch List, but as odd as it may seem, the church is growing. "[There are] hundreds and probably thousands coming to Christ every month in Iran," says Shibley. "Consequently, there's a reaction to that."
Persecution indicates growth, and growth hopefully indicates more growth. Global Advance plans to travel to Mongolia, South Sudan, Botswana, Ethiopia, the Philippines and more to do outreach and training over the next few months. Shibley expects it will be a summer of harvest.
"The writer of Proverbs says that ‘He who gathers in summer is a wise son.' We believe that even with many challenges worldwide, this is a summer of tremendous spiritual hunger which consequently has the potential of great spiritual harvest," says Shibley.
Pray for Global Advance this summer as they train leaders and support believers worldwide. Pray that this would indeed be a summer of spiritual harvest across the globe. Pray that believers all over would remain bold despite rising persecution.
Learn more about Global Advance at their Web site, www.globaladvance.org.