It sounds like an archaic word, doesn't it?
It conjures up pictures of early Christians during the time of the Roman Empire, huddled in dark catacombs, shivering in the cold, and singing hymns in hushed voices while the bustling city of Rome goes about it daily business.
Or of the roar of the Roman colosseum and of the saints marching in, hands and feet bound, led to where they would be given over to the wild beasts or set aflame for their faith.
Courtesy of wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jean-L%C3%A9on_G%C3%A9r%C3%B4me_-_The_Christian_Martyrs%27_Last_Prayer_-_Walters_37113.jpg
Although it may not be a topic on the daily news, persecution of Christians still happens
Even as you are reading this post.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity has reported that in the last decade, an average of 100,000 Christians have died each year for motives related to their faith.
That works out to be about 11 Christians each hour die for their faith in Christ.
Eleven Christians per hour?
Die for their faith?
Is this as surprising to you as it is to me?
Persecution still happens.
Today is the International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the persecuted church and we as believers in Jesus Christ have an opportunity to pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are suffering and dying for their faith.
One family in Vietnam a family is suffering because two brothers, Pa and Ngai, shared their faith in a small village and were arrested and beaten. One of the brothers did not survive. You can read about their story on the Voice of the Martyrs website, here.
In Iran, Mojtaba Seyyed Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani and Homayoun Shokouhi, three members of a house church, were arrested in June and given sentences of three years and eight months in prison. Their story is on the Open Doors website, here.
In Nepal, a believer was killed by the man he was praying for to be healed. You can read about his story on the Gospel for Asia website here.
Some may think that we suffer because we don't have enough faith, but the truth is,
As followers of Jesus Christ, we suffer because of our faith.
And these Christians are suffering and dying because
They know that Christ is the Lord and He is our Savior,
and they will follow Him regardless of the cost.
Listen to what the apostle Paul said as he was suffering for his faith in Christ:
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:8-11)
These are but a few of the stories of faithful Christians who have shared in the sufferings of Christ.
Today we can remember them,
Pray for their families, and
Pray for others around the world who are undergoing the same kind of persecution.
Praying with you,