Earlier this month, Christianity Today reported on the “Top 50 Countries Where it is Hardest to be a Christian.” Apparently, martyrdoms are dropping in number in Nigeria but soaring in Burkina Faso. North Korea tops the list, with Afghanistan and Somalia right behind them.
And sadly, India entered the top ten list for the first time this past year.
That article went on to assert that 8 Christians worldwide are killed every single day for their faith. Eight.
As I ruminated on the list and the high levels of persecution our brothers and sisters around the globe face every day, I became more and more aware of the contrast that exists for American believers.
We are not persecuted. Now I know we face an uphill cultural battle within our society. We are subjected to laws that run afoul of scripture. We are often ignored by our leaders and marginalized by our fellow citizens. But, let’s get real, we are not persecuted.
Truthfully, the greatest pressures we may face are the consequences of our own sin and the results of just living in a fallen world.
As I write this note, I am getting ready to head over to my church for a prayer meeting. I know that the doors will be open. We do not meet in secret. No one will block the entrance or grab people as they leave. And we need to think about that.
We need to think more regularly about our freedoms, and be grateful. We need to cherish our ability to worship without restraints and express our sincere gratitude to the Lord for these blessings.
Perhaps we can encourage others to remember what we enjoy and join them in praising the Lord for His graciousness.
And we need to think about our brothers and sisters around the world who huddle together in dark, quiet places for fear of persecution. And we need to pray for them. Individually. As a group. For their families. For their ministries. (Take a look at websites like OPEN DOORS USA and VOICE OF THE MARTYRS for current information.)
The challenge for the American church is not open persecution, but open disdain. The challenge for American Christians is apathy and ungratefulness. “Lord, forgive us.”