Remembering the Persecuted Church

Titian's Ancona Crucifiction, 1558.
Image via Wikipedia

This Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Let’s all take time to remember and pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are facing severe persecutions for their faith.

Although it’s very difficult to get entirely accurate statistics on how many people are actually persecuted for their faith, the World Evangelical Alliance has published some shocking figures about today’s worldwide persecution of Christians. According to their research:

  • There are 52 nations that are recognized as restricted and hostile where Christians still suffer for their faith. Five of these countries—Cuba, North Korea, China, Vietnam, and Ethiopia—have been on the Voice of the Martyr’s list of restricted nations for more than 30 years.
  • Christians are the most persecuted group in the world today, and every year literally hundreds of thousands of them are threatened, discriminated against, arrested, sold as slaves, tortured, and sometimes killed because they are followers of Jesus.
  • Each year, between 150,000 and 165,000 people are martyred (they love Jesus more than their natural lives).
  • There have been more than 26 million documented cases of martyrdom in this century alone.
  • More than 43 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the crucifixion of Jesus, and more of these martyrdoms have occurred in the 20th Century than in all of the prior 1,900 years since Christ combined.

Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3 provide a great prayer template for us as we remember these precious men, women, and children in the Persecuted Church: “Finally, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

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