Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body”. Recall to mind our brothers and sisters in Christ who are imprisoned for their Christian testimony, as if it was you in prison, chained together with them. Recall to mind our Christian family, who suffer maltreatment and torment at the hands of those who hate Jesus and the Bible - as if it was you suffering in your body. This means to identify with them. Relate to them. Imagine yourself in their place.
1Cor 12:26-27 says, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it… Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” The church universal is the Body of Christ. If a part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. We are to weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15). We are to bear each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2). We are to have compassion on one another (1Pt 3:8). Our brothers and sisters in many nations suffer greatly for their faith in Jesus. We must not forget them. We must suffer with them.
Believe it or not, Americans are not the face of Christianity. We are not what typical Christianity world wide looks like or lives like. We are exceptionally blessed, and have exceptional freedom, peace, & wealth. The world population is approx. 7 billion. 2.3 billion (or 1/3) are Christian. The U.S. has about 350 million people. If even half of Americans are Christian (175 million), we are not even 10 percent of the Christian population of the world. Where do the majority of our brothers and sisters live? On the other side of the globe. A little over 1/3 of Christians live in the Western Hemisphere, while 2/3 live in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In many of these countries, the persecution of Christians is alive and well. Harassment, imprisonment, torture, & death for naming the Name of Jesus did not stop in the Roman Coliseum. It continues today.
Since 1990, approximately 160,000 Christians are martyred each year for their faith in Jesus. This equates to 438 Christians a day losing their life through persecution in the last quarter century. Or, a disciple of Christ is martyred every 3 minutes on this planet. We are not talking about dying in a car wreck or of old age. We are talking about their faith in Jesus being a determining factor in their death.
Do these numbers seem too big to believe? Perhaps it’s because of our sanitized religion here in the States, and the intentional media blackout on these matters. Or perhaps it’s just too uncomfortable to confront, and would be easier ignored. Persecution of Christians is real. Look up on the web Voice of the Martyrs, International Christian Concern, Open Doors, Release International - and get educated. Go to Voice of the Martyrs channel on Youtube.com. Sign up for their newsletters.
We can make a difference! Here are four easy ways: 1. Pray for the persecuted church. Pray for them to have boldness to witness and stand for Jesus. Pray for them to be able to forgive their tormentors. Pray for their families to be provided for. Pray they would know they are not forgotten. 2. Read. Read Voice of the Martyrs monthly newsletter. Read Tortured for Christ (it’s free at persecution.com). Stay informed. 3. Give. The Bible commands us to give “especially to the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). They are family. They need our prayers, our encouragement, and our help. 4. Do. Go to the above websites. See how you can get involved;, writing letters to imprisoned Christians, supporting the family of a martyr, helping pastors evangelize, etc.
Are you sick and tired of lukewarm Christianity? Do you want to be involved in a truly meaningful ministry - something that really does make a difference, that you can “pour yourself out” in order to do? Ask God to set your heart on fire for His suffering saints. Ask Him to make you a vessel of mercy, to be used to ease the burden of the afflicted brethren around the world. Research these ministries, and let God set you ablaze. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!