For us living in the Western world, it’s hard to imagine how difficult life is for Christians in countries that are heavily persecuted for their beliefs. This is not to say people in Western countries are not marginalised, but this is not comparable to countries like Afghanistan and North Korea. Imagine not being allowed to own a Bible let alone go to church! According to the 2022 Open Doors World Watch List, persecution of Christians has reached the highest levels since the list began nearly 30 years ago.
Christians all around the world face different levels of persecution with the extreme being the death penalty for believing in the God of the Bible. Top 10 countries on the list are: Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, and India. Believers in these counties suffer violent attacks, kidnap, rape, forced marriage, and more. Being constantly on guard is no way to live a life, especially for a family, even when it seems quiet conditions and attitudes can change rapidly overnight. These persecuted Christians yearn to live somewhere in safety but even travelling or staying in refugee camps can be dangerous – human trafficking, sexual violence, and more are an ever present threat.
They need our prayers…wherever these believers are in the world, they are still part of the body of Christ. We need to pray for their protection, safety, and courage. Pray that they can find a way out to a place they can call home. Also, pray that they can be a light to others around them who don’t know Jesus as their saviour, showing strength in the time of great danger can be a powerful witness. Open Doors has plenty of resources and information about each of the countries to help direct your prayers. Every prayer will be delivered to the throne room of the Lord Almighty who will act on all according to His will. We also must pray for those who attack the faith, that hearts will be softened and eyes opened to the pain they are inflicting and that they may also come to recognise Jesus as Lord.
The immense strength these persecuted christians show to stand strong in their belief in Jesus Christ is a valuable lesson for us all. This challenges us all to examine how we are standing for the truth of the gospel in our own culture. We have THE truth in Jesus Christ who died and rose again for our sins. We are living at a time when christian values are being diluted throughout society and christian voices are being silenced. Whatever path God leads us on let us remember and pray for the whole body of Christ, particularly those in living with the threat of extreme persecution.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 NIV)