I usually share my thoughts in “Outside the Box” about seeing life through the eyes of a non-conformist pastor. I try to make these insights light hearted but helpful. Today, however, let me speak of a more serious topic; the intense Christian persecution occurring around the world.
In my world Christians suffer worship centers that are too cold; worship schedules that interfere with ball practice for the kids; music that is either too loud or too old; pastors who only talk about money and other horrendous atrocities being perpetrated against American church-goers. In the rest of the world things are considerably worse.
Did you see in the news last week where over 800 people drowned aboard a dilapidated ship while they were attempting to make land in Italy from Libya, fleeing the chaos there? Did you know many of them were Christians? Were you also aware that on another crossing, not publicized as well the capsized ship was an incident where fifteen Muslims threw twelve Christians overboard while traveling in those same waters.
Brutal religious persecution is going on around the world today. Thousands of believers have been martyred in the last few years. Many others have suffered imprisonment, torture, burning, enslavement and starvation. Often newscast don’t share that those who are being abused are being persecuted because they are Christians.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians now die every year, targeted because of their faith — that is 11 every hour. The Pew Research Center says that hostility to religion reached a new high in 2012, when Christians faced some form of discrimination in 139 countries, almost three-quarters of the world’s nations.
I’m convicted we don’t pray enough for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Miles are no deterrent to our prayers. We are all a part of the body of Christ made up of “every tribe and tongue” who will confess Him as Lord. I have to believe the music, preaching, temperature and friendliness of American churches would be more tolerable if we forgot about our own preferences long enough to pray for those who would give all they had to be sitting next to us this Sunday.