With persecution of Christians growing worldwide it’s more important than ever that our persecuted brothers and sisters receive encouragement from believers in other nations. That’s why Mountain Movers International continues to go onsite, often in volatile areas, to bring hope, help, and training to God’s servant-leaders on the frontlines of the Gospel’s advance.
In the last several weeks, we’ve witnessed severe attacks on Christians in Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, and even in Britain. Recently there has been a widespread imprisonment targeting evangelical Christians in Iran (where the church is experiencing colossal growth).
Persecution and even killing of Christians is spiking in many parts of the world. Paul Marshall of The Hudson Institute estimates that at least 600 million and maybe closer to 700 million Christians worldwide are experiencing some level of persecution. That means that roughly one in every three people who name the name of Christ is suffering for his or her devotion to Him.
Yet interestingly this major story is glaringly under reported by most of America’s press and news outlets. Many, but certainly not all, of these hostile acts against Christians are inflicted by radical Islamists. We should remember that hundreds of millions of Muslims are embarrassed and conflicted by these cowardly acts. However, there are millions of other Muslims, especially the young and disenfranchised, who are becoming radicalized.
Until recently, Christians in the United States have been insulated from assaults against them and their faith. That may be changing as America’s population becomes more diverse, as more misguided young zealots become radicalized, and as atheists become increasingly vocal and antagonistic.
Still, here in America it’s easy to turn and look the other way – away from the suffering of our persecuted brothers and sisters, but that’s really not an option for a true follower of Jesus. God’s Word is abundantly clear that we are to stand in solidarity with the church worldwide, especially those who are experiencing injustice. We are to plead their cause. “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter” (Prov. 24:11).
Further, we cannot say that we were ignorant of their plight. “If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?” (Prov. 24:12).
The Bible teaches that persecution for devotion to Christ is to be expected. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:2, NIV).
Yet in most American pulpits this issue is never addressed. In a North African nation, responding righteously to persecution is taught as part of basic discipleship. It is assumed that as a believer in Jesus you will be persecuted. American Christians perceive persecution as an advanced course for super saints.
However, in much of the world it’s just part of Discipleship 101. We are to pray for and identify with our brothers and sisters who suffer. “Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3, NIV).
Paul taught that we are to lovingly but firmly stand our ground. We are to stand together, “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved – and that by God” (Phil. 1:27-28, NIV).
By God’s grace and within the context of godly counsel Mountain Movers International will keep going onsite in some of the most challenging parts of the world to bring encouragement to pastoral leaders and Christians in business who are being persecuted because of their commitment to Christ. I can’t tell you how many times pastors around the world have tearfully thanked us for coming to encourage them. As a persecuted Asian pastor recently told me, “You have made us know that we’re not forgotten and we’re not alone.”
Don’t be disheartened because the Gospel’s enemies have turned up the heat. Look at the present in the context both of history and biblical prophecy. From history we learn that the church is strengthened and grows when persecuted. As the early church father Tertullian observed, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” From the prophetic promises of Scripture we’re assured that Jesus gets the final word. He will reign over all peoples and nations. He will subdue all things to Himself and He will make His enemies His footstool.
In his last letter, written from prison, Paul wrote triumphantly – even defiantly, “The word of God is not chained” (2 Tim. 2:9). The Gospel will prevail. Jesus shall reign.