It’s nothing new for Christians. In fact, Jesus warned us.
Persecution is real.
There’s never been a generation since the time of Christ where Christians have avoided it. Yes, often it is regional and not global, but that’s always been the case – even for much of the early church.
Over the summer, those of us in the West have seen and heard report after report of the collapse of the Iraqi national army and the rise of ISIS. This has led to what some are calling a new holocaust. Christians who have been present in the region of Iraq and Eastern Syria for over 1900 years were ordered to leave, pay a fine or be killed. Those who chose to pay a fine and seek peace found their wives and daughters taken from them and claimed for the ISIS troops and their sons murdered. It takes a simple Google search to find images of children of Christian parents beheaded with their heads on pikes in the park. This weekend, the vicar of the Anglican church in Baghdad reported that a father in the church saw his 5 year old son cut in two by soldiers.
What are we to do?
1.) Weep. As I read the story of the five year old killed because of his father’s faith in Christ, I could do nothing else. Is you heart breaking over what your brothers and sisters are facing?
2.) Get educated. Join the Voice of the Martyrs website to understand and know more about what is happening on a global scale. While Iraq captures the attention of many due to the gross excess of ISIS, the same tactics are being used in Africa and other locations. Persecution is a global reality and it’s time we were educated on this.
3.) Be an advocate. Our representative form of government in the US gives you a unique opportunity to put leverage on your congressman or congresswoman to make a change that could bring some help. Considering it took major news outlets significant time to catch on to this story, we can be grateful for the action of President Obama to authorize air strikes, but more significant action will probably be needed. You can express your solidarity with fellow Christians and contact your representatives. In addition, be an advocate in your congregation for prayer and meeting the needs of believers globally!
4.) Fast and Pray. This last week, a friend of mine in Texas appealed to his friends for a day of prayer and fasting for the persecuted church. He hosted an early-morning prayer gathering in his home and encouraged individuals to come. What could happen if we took time from our small groups and our services to simply stop and pray for the persecuted church? What if we gave up a meal or two in order to remind ourselves of the pain these families are feeling? We can go before the very throne of God and make appeal for our brothers and sisters!
5.) Give. Don’t give to assuage some misplaced form of guilt. Give because it matters and it saves lives. Baptist Global Response has been called up to provide specific and targeted relief for those displaced by this tragedy. Because of the unique funding structures of Southern Baptists, 100% of gifts go to the relief cause. You can give by going to the Baptist Global Response page or right now you can give $10 by texting imbrelief to 80888
We live in perilous days yet we can make a difference. Let’s get involved for our brothers and sisters in Christ!
John Mark Yeats