Laughter surrounds me. The “life of the office” is telling another off-color joke. It’s not lightly peppered with profanity—it drowns in it, especially in references that take God’s name in vain. I sit silent, afraid to take a stand. The risk of being laughed at or ridiculed seems too great.
That young, silent woman was me in my twenties. It may be you now. We don’t take a stand for Christ or share our faith in Him because it seems too risky. Christians around the world, however, face a different kind of risk if they reveal they are believers in Christ. They risk being shunned by their families. They risk unemployment and other financial hardships. They risk imprisonment. They risk death.
Believers in the Chiapas state in Mexico face attacks from Caciques, a group that combines Catholic beliefs with Mayan religion. In Egypt, Christians are treated like second-class citizens. In India, the Christian minority is in danger because of Hindu militants. Chinese believers who meet in illegal churches always face danger. In Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria, Sudan, and many other Muslim countries, being a Christian is “regulated,” and can even be considered a “crime” punishable by death.
2 Corinthians 4:8–9 says, “We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.” Persecuted but not abandoned. How can we help those who risk believing in Christ know that they are not abandoned?
Prayer. We can daily lift up in prayer people around the world who face persecution because of their faith in Christ. Conduct an Internet search for the phrase “persecuted church” and you will find resources, prayer calendars, and information about persecuted Christians. In November each year, a Sunday is set aside as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, but we can pray every day.
Presence. American Christians on vacation or on business often head to international destinations. If you are ever an international traveler, become prayerfully conscious of the persecution level in the region you visit. For example, the Maldives (a popular resort island nation in the Indian ocean) is one of the least evangelical nations on earth. Every religion is illegal except Sunni Islam. As a Christian visiting the Maldives, or another area of Christian persecution, you may have the opportunity to help a fellow believer feel less alone.
Provision. In Laos, printed religious materials are strictly regulated. In North Korea, being caught with a Bible or distributing Bible could mean execution. Still, believers around the world hunger for the Word of God. We can support groups who get Bibles to people in persecuted countries. We can place Bibles in the hands of visitors who come to America for education or business reasons. We can become God’s instruments of provision.
We can also honor the persecuted by taking risks for our faith in Christ. Are you willing to risk sharing your faith, regardless of the consequences?
Learn more at Open Door's site and World Watch List interactive map located there. Open Door works in the most oppressive countries, strengthening persecuted Christians to stand strong and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these dark places.
Suzanne Krein lives and writes in Stafford, Virginia. Her daughters, Juli and Tori, are both engaged in full-time ministry and each have crossed paths with people from the persecuted church.