It is estimated that 160,000 people were killed for their belief in Jesus in 1997 alone. Most of those murdered were ex-Muslims in Islamic nations, where the fact that someone believes in “Isa” – the Islamic name for Jesus – is viewed as falling away from the true faith and is punishable by death. The WEF calls on all Christians to take part in this day of prayer, to pray for all Christians who are already in jail, asking God to use them to spread the gospel among their fellow prisoners and the prison staff.
Information material including a video is available from your nation’s Evangelical Alliance, or in the USA via telephone (+1)-847-718-0560. See also <http://www.persecutedchurch.org> on the internet.
They’ve harmed no one, nor committed any actual crimes. Yet, each day, over 200 million Christ-followers in dozens of countries risk being beaten, raped,imprisoned,or even killed simply because they dare to follow Christ. With the Gospel spreading into more of the world than ever before, persecution is at its worst in history. In fact, more Christians have been martyred for their faith in this century than in the 19 prior centuries combined. As a family of believers, we cannot look the other way.
The persecution of Christians is the number one human rights issue of our time -but is anyone aware of this? Does anyone care? In August of this year:
Two Egyptian Christians were murdered in the village of El-Koshesh.
Also,over 1,000 Christians were rounded-up by the police and interrogated via torture sessions in order to extract false confessions.
Churches have been closed around Laos and Vietnam, and Christians have been sent to prison for “re-education”.
In Pakistan, the nation’s civil legal system is being replaced with Islamic law, while blasphemy laws make it virtually impossible for Christians and other non-Muslims to defend themselves against charges of blasphemy which require the death penalty.
In Sudan, leading relief and development organizations state that 2.5 million persons face death by starvation as the radical Islamic government of Khartoum continues their barbaric campaign of death and slaughter against the largely Christian South.
And these are but a few of the reports published regularly detailing what Christians face in over 50 nations worldwide, according to a 1997 US State Department Report.
When faced with these true stories – how do you react? It is all too easy to feel overwhelmed and decide that someone else with greater knowledge, power, or resources will meet the challenge in confronting these gross violations against Christian family members. But if you rightly understand these persons to be your brothers and sisters, can you so easily distance yourself?
Now is the time to educate our churches and ourselves concerning the extent of the suffering our brothers and sisters endure around the world. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. The results of our combined efforts have made and will make a difference. In 1997, the issue of Christian persecution began to finally get the attention it deserves. Due to the prayers and action of millions of Christ-followers and concerned others, a major piece of religious freedom legislation has passed both houses of Congress unanimously and now awaits the President’s signature.
A Congressional Task Force on behalf of religious prisoners was formed, and a leading Christian statesman was nominated as Special Advisor to the State Department on Religious Persecution Issues. In addition, Christians internationally have reported that they feel the power of our prayer and are sharing the gospel with greater boldness, despite persecution.
Add to these events the articles that have appeared in practically every major periodical from the New York Times to Guidepost, and you understand the uniqueness of this hour, of “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).