“Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly.” Psalm 82:3
In the United States, Christians don’t really know persecution. Sure there are those who might not accept our beliefs, or ridicule us on social media or in other contexts. But every day there is real violence and hate toward Christians around the world. There are beatings, abductions, arrests, imprisonment, rape, property destroyed, churches burned. And each month an average of 322 Christians are killed because of their beliefs. Over 75% of the world is hostile to Christians.
The United States, by comparison, is a wonderful environment for Christ-followers. If we live in a place where persecution is mild, how should we react, respond and be involved when we hear of Christian suffering around the world?
1 Corinthians 12:26 says that we are one body. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Therefore, one of the first things we can do is recognize that persecution is happening every day around the world. The news media doesn’t report this. You can visit websites like Open Doors to read real life stories about Christians who are suffering. The first step in stemming persecution is for all believers to have an awareness of it. Understand you worship the same Jesus, and He is with them in their suffering just as He is with you.
Next you can pray. God answers prayer and God loves His followers. Philippians 1:29 reminds us that we may endure suffering for Jesus, but it has a purpose. When we endure suffering, we uphold the name of God. We are saying to others that our trust and belief in Him is so strong, we are willing to endure what is thrown at us. Jesus suffered for us on the cross. When we suffer for Him, we are a picture of sacrifice. People see Jesus in us. So pray that the suffering of believers may be ended. But also pray the suffering of believers will be used to spread the Gospel and as a powerful witness of trust in God.
Finally, you can get involved. Persecutions at the hands of repressive governments, religious tyranny, or lack of human rights are all man-made problems. Through volunteering, petitions, education, contacting cultural leaders, activism and donating for the needs of the persecuted, you can have a tangible part of serving and helping those who are suffering for God.
God, help me to remember those around the world who are right now suffering because of their belief in You. I pray their suffering will end. And if it will not, I pray you will use their persecution to glorify Yourself and make your Gospel known among the nations. Open my eyes to ways I can be involved in volunteering, donating or educating on behalf of those who are persecuted for Your Name’s sake. In Christ, Amen.