Spotlight On: The Persecuted Church

Only a few days ago, a group of extremist militants assaulted a university in north-eastern Kenya as an act of violent terrorism. 147 people died that day. Most were students, and many died because they believed in the power of Jesus. The militants specifically sought out Christian students and shot them because of their faith.

Open Doors
It’s been a crazy nine months for me since I returned from my amazing trip to the Philippines. Most importantly, I’ve graduated from high school and started my uni degree studying Social Work (more about this will follow in the upcoming weeks).
This Easter weekend, I’ve been at Easterfest in Toowoomba. Easterfest is an amazing Christian music festival in Australia’s largest inland city. Some great bands came this year – including Emery, Red & Switchfoot, to name a few. It’s been incredible to enjoy this fellowship with other believers and to celebrate the story of Easter through some incredible music.
As well as the guest artists who attended the festival, there were many stalls and information booths run by different Christian organisations. One such stall was operated by Open Doors Australia, a ministry dedicated to serving the persecuted church worldwide. If you haven’t heard of this organisation before, I strongly recommend that you check out their website.

Persecution: the Reality
It is estimated that about 180 Christians are killed for their faith every day (Source: Open Doors USA). The Christian church faces persecution mostly from dictatorial states or extremist religious groups. People around the world live in fear of torture or execution simply because they own a Bible.
In North Korea, if a person is discovered to be a Christian, they will be taken to a labor camp where they will be forced to work until they die. Their families will also be punished.
In areas of Iraq which are controlled by the Islamic State, almost all traces of Christianity have disappeared. Most Christians, along with people of other minority religions, have been displaced or killed.

Apathy and Ignorance
As Christians, it’s our job to enact justice amongst all people. And yet, so many Christians are simply ignorant to the plight and the suffering of many of our brothers and sisters around the world today. I believe that this issue is something that we do not talk about nearly enough. People need to become informed otherwise we will never see change.
However, even when Christians learn about the injustices which are happening all around the world, many decide that it is simply “not our problem.” Too easily, we display apathy instead of compassion. We are so comfortable in our safe, secure lives that we do not consider the sufferings of others.
I have to constantly remind myself that it is my problem. We are the body of Christ, and as it is says in 1 Corinthians 12:26, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Therefore, as fellow believers, each of us has an obligation to do whatever we can to help the persecuted church.

“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10

How we can help
There are many ways that we can help fellow Christians who are suffering under persecution. Some simple, basic examples include:
1. Prayer. Pray for the persecuted and for those who persecute. Pray for deliverance, ongoing faith and enduring love. Pray for change.
2. Giving. Make a monetary donation to an organisation such as Open Doors or Voice of the Martyrs. This donation will allow organisations to continue supporting persecuted Christians all over the world.
3. Advocacy. Stand up and speak up. Tell your friends and family. Become informed so that you can inform others.

What next?
I sincerely hope that this post has challenged you to help your brothers and sisters in the persecuted church, just as I was challenged afresh through my conversations with Open Doors at Easterfest, Keep an eye out for my upcoming masterpost about Easterfest. It’s been an amazing Easter weekend and I can’t wait to share some of my highlights with you.
Love always, Annie May