A recent blog post brought attention to the reality of Christian persecution around the world and the need to be mindful when applying that label to current events. It is important to understand what persecution is and how to respond to it as a follower of Christ.
In areas of the world with more freedom to practice religion, often Christian persecution can seem like a foreign concept. It is something that happens “there” but not “here.” In reality, all Christ-followers are connected in one global body. So what happens to Christians “there” should affect how we pray and act “here.”
Open Doors defines Christian persecution this way:
“Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes, and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.”
Sources of Persecution
Persecution can come from many different sources. These are some common sources:
- Governments – In many countries, authoritarian governments restrict religious expression and view religious groups as enemies of the state. Other governments are dominated by one religion and place harsh penalties on those who follow a minority faith.
- Fundamentalist groups – Often fundamentalist groups from a dominant religion inflict severe persecution on Christians and others of minority faiths (Examples: ISIS).
- Communities and villages – Christians can be isolated from their communities. They are often unable to find work or maintain a business. Also, neighbors can often turn against those who become Christians. They can be the ones who commit acts of violence against them.
- Families – When some decide to follow Christ, they risk losing their families. They see them as traitors and can sometimes be in danger of violence from those who are closest to them.
Unity in the Body of Christ
As Christians look for the “city that is to come,” (Hebrews 13:14), we all face some sort of pressure from the world to give up our faith—whether cultural shifts or outright violence. Let us stand together and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
During Secret Church every year, we focus in on one area of the world where Christians face persecution. We learn about what persecution looks like for them and hear personal testimonies of God’s work in them in the midst of opposition. This year we are praying for the church in India.
Joining in on Secret Church is one way that you can come alongside brothers and sisters under persecution and support them in prayer. You can also be an advocate for them. Encourage your church or small group to participate in Secret Church with you.
In the coming months, we will be posting more about persecution in India. Also, stay tuned to learn more about India and find out how you can begin praying now.