A crucial global problem is that millions of Christians are being persecuted around the world, yet the news rarely makes headlines.
That issue was somewhat alleviated, at least temporarily, with the coverage of the recent World Watch List from Open Doors USA, which annually ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. The top five, with "extreme persecution," include North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Pakistan.
The American Pastors Network (APN, americanpastorsnetwork.net) recently discussed this important topic on its daily, live, one-hour radio program, "Stand in the Gap Today," heard on more than 425 stations nationwide—namely, what Christians can do about these attacks on their brothers and sisters in Christ.
"Some Christians may have been ridiculed by a classmate, maligned by a co-worker or embarrassed by a teacher for their beliefs," said APN president Sam Rohrer. "But few of us in America have been beaten, thrown into jail or publicly humiliated at the hands of government officials because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Today, around the world, there is more persecution of people because of their faith in Jesus than in the entire history of the world. Yet, sadly, few people know about it. It's time for Christians who enjoy their religious freedom to stand for those who are persecuted to both create awareness and take action."
Recently on "Stand in the Gap Today," Rohrer, his co-hosts and guests have defined persecution, discussed where it's happening, identified who is perpetrating it and considered what other believers can do in response. Officially, Rohrer said, persecution is defined as the "the infliction of pain, punishment or death upon others unjustly, particularly for adhering to a religious creed or mode of worship, either by way of penalty or for compelling them to renounce their principles."
"The very sad fact is that persecution in general and Christian persecution in particular has risen its ugly head around the world," Rohrer added. "Yet very little news of this ever reaches the people. Over the centuries since the days of Nero and the Christians in the Coliseum, to the era of Stalin and Hitler, to the current days of ISIS, Christians have been persecuted and martyred for their faith. We can compare this to a modern-day, slow-moving genocide, with 255 Christians killed worldwide every month, according to Open Doors."
Additionally, Open Doors shares, 104 Christians are abducted; 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage; 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial and 66 churches are attacked—every month.
"Persecution, while it is observable, serious and growing, is sometimes difficult to ascertain the cause," Rohrer said on the program. "In the study of Christian persecution, there are certain key drivers. Perhaps the very worst is government because it has the power to imprison and kill and could be the very worst type of driver because there is no one to help in such cases, other than another government stepping in.
"But, there are other drivers of persecution: ethnic group leaders, religious and non-religious leaders at various levels, extended family, organized crime cartels and a host of others that would fall in the broader category of 'society,'" Rohrer continued. "Yet, I would submit that the worst of all persecutors are those who blend the religious and the governmental through Islam and sharia law."
Ultimately, Christians who are free to worship as they please must be the ones to come to the aid of their fellow believers, Rohrer said, whether by prayer, raising awareness or urging U.S. government intervention.
Rohrer also shared these concepts on the show:
- Christians shouldn't hope for persecution but should expect it.
- Christians can be confident because no persecution can separate believers from the love of God.
- Christians should have the attitude and pre-determined conviction of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
- Persecution is a result of living as Christ commands, refusing to bow down to the god of government or culture and refusing to renounce the name of Jesus Christ.
- Christians must awaken to the reality of the times regarding persecution.
Listen to these audio clips on Christian persecution from "Stand in the Gap Today:"
- How does the Bible define persecution?
- How bad is Christian persecution around the world today?
- Should persecution come as a surprise to those who live godly?
- Who are the major drivers of Christian persecution today around the world?
- What can governments do to limit persecution around the world?
"Stand in the Gap Today" can be heard live online from noon to 1 p.m. EST at American Pastors Network.com at the orange "Listen Live" button on the right-hand side of the webpage; find a station here. View the media page for APN here, which also details information about "Stand in the Gap." For more information on APN, visit AmericanPastorsNetwork.net, its Facebook page or follow APN's Twitter feed, @AmericanPastors.
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