Christian Persecution

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

In early November, 2012 German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Christianity is “the most persecuted religion in the world.” Does this sound a bit absurd?

Rupert short, the Religion Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, contributor to the Guardian and The Times and a Visiting Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, in his book Christianophobia focuses on instances of persecution of Christian communities in countries where they often have a long established and historic presence but are now a diminishing minority. He finds that on a global scale more Christians face discrimination, and often violent persecution, than followers of any other religion.

Kelly James Clark, the Senior Research Fellow, Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Grand Valley State University, writes that “Between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have departed or been killed over the past century.” He report that “In 1990, there were over 1.2 million Christians in Iraq but by the end of 2003, there were fewer than 500,000; in 2013, there are fewer than 200,000 Iraqi Christians… Bishops and priests have been kidnapped and tortured; churches are bombed, killing and injuring Christians.”  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-james-clark/christianity-most-persecuted-religion_b_2402644.html) Christians in the Middle East are made to feel that they have two choices leave or suffer persecution.

The following are some nations that treat apostasy under their criminal laws. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy)

  • Iran – illegal (death penalty)
  • Egypt – illegal (3 years’ imprisonment)
  • Pakistan – illegal (death penalty since 2007)
  • United Arab Emirates – illegal (3 years’ imprisonment, flogging)
  • Somalia – illegal (death penalty)
  • Afghanistan – illegal (death penalty, although the U.S. and other coalition members have put pressure that has prevented recent executions)
  • Saudi Arabia – illegal (death penalty, although there have been no recently reported executions)
  • Sudan – illegal (death penalty, although there have only been recent reports of torture, and not of execution)
  • Qatar – illegal (death penalty)
  •  Yemen – illegal (death penalty)
  • Malaysia – illegal in five of 13 states (fine, imprisonment, and flogging)
  • Mauritania – illegal (death penalty if still apostate after 3 days)
  • Morocco – illegal to proselytize conversion (15 years’ imprisonment)
  • Jordan – possibly illegal (fine, jail, child custody loss, marriage annulment) although officials claim otherwise, convictions are recorded for apostasy
  • Oman – legal in criminal code, but according to the family code, a father can lose custody of his child.

Under these laws, in general, both the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and converting to Christianity, places people at great risk, in the countries listed above. They may suffer the death penalty, imprisonment or some other form of torture.

To be a Christian in a great part of the world means to be persecuted.  Jesus warned of this He said “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)  He also said “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. “(John 15:19) 

Jesus also had this ominous prophecy “And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:11-13)

Christians have suffered from the founding of the faith and continue to suffer until this day.  In America we enjoy great liberty, to preach the gospel and practice our faith. We should humbly recognize this as a great gift and an opportunity that we should not pass up. We should share the love of Christ at every opportunity we have and remain politically active in order to protect our rights.  We must also seek to help our brothers and sisters that suffer under persecution. We should encourage our leaders to use the influence of our great nation to initiate reforms and establish protections around the world for all those who suffer persecution, including Christians.

Consider these Verses-on-persecution

 

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Heart Trouble?

 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. ” JOHN 14:1-3

What troubles your heart?

Rising taxes, unemployment, bills, a broken car, family conflicts, relationships, sickness or even hunger could be part of an endless list. It’s not a perfect world, far from it. Pain, injustice and despair consistently enter our lives, just to remind us that it is a fallen world.  Maintaining your faith or just a positive attitude can be a challenge in the midst of all the trouble.

The disciples were no strangers to trouble.  They suffered mighty persecution at the hands of religious leaders of the day and the Roman empire.  History records that they were imprisoned, beaten, and killed.  Surely Jesus knew they would have cause for a troubled heart.  Was it unfair for Jesus to make such a request. “Let not your heart be troubled.”

Jesus knew the persecution would be great.  But he wanted them to trust in His promises. They surely did.  There’s was a life of power and faith. While suffering persecution, they were able to spread the gospel with joy in their hearts.  We can recall Paul and Silas singing in the prison after having been beaten and chained.  The prison walls would shake and crumble before God’s power.  Paul and Silas did not allow for their hearts to be troubled.  Instead they worshiped God .  We can do likewise when we remember Christ’s promises. “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Regardless of the trouble of this world we can keep our hearts trouble free by maintaining our faith in His promises.  He’s prepared a place.  He’s coming back for you and me and we will be with Him forever!

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