Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve Jones here… In my office I have a poster hanging that lists all of the names of the Christian foreign missionaries martyred during the Boxer Rebellion in Northern China. From November 2, 1899 to September 7, 1901 approximately 32,000 Chinese Christians and 200 foreign missionaries were killed by the Boxers (another 100,000 civilians were also killed by Boxers). The Boxer rebellion was a national movement that was violent toward foreign and Christian entities in China. The list included missionaries and their families (children as young as 10 months) from Sweden, Britain, USA, and one Australian.
That slaughter happened more than a century ago. What’s happening today?
It’s common knowledge that more Christians have been martyred in the past 100 years than all martyrs combined in the previous 19 centuries. In Matthew 5:10-12 Jesus tells us to expect persecution. It’s not “if” but “when” it will happen. Persecution certainly takes on different forms whether you live in Canada or the Sudan — but it will happen.
In a 2004 report on “Martyrdom Situations” (2000-2010) by Todd Johnson of the World Christian Database, the average number of Christians martyred between 2000 and 2010 was 109,300 each year. I have heard other figures as high as 180,000 per year.
Reports of Christian Martyrs between 2000 and 2010
Here are some of the verified reports:
FIVE LESSONS learned amidst PERSECUTION
In Daniel 3:8-30 and Acts 16:20-35 we see two stories of persecution. In Daniel we learn of three young Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who will not worship the Babylonian gods; as a result they are accused, bound, renounced and thrown into a furnace. In Acts 16 we learn of two Christians, Paul and Silas, who are unlawfully whipped and imprisoned after casting out a demon from a young fortune teller. What common themes occur in both stories?
Opposition is inevitable… Expect it.
Daniel 3:8 – The astrologers.
Acts 16:19-21 – The business owners and magistrates.
It costs to stand up for the Truth.
Acts 16:22-23 – Whipped and imprisoned due to trumped up charges from corrupt business owners.
God’s sovereign Will is perfect, whether it means protecting you or not.
Daniel 3:16-18 – The boys trusted God whether they lived or died in the flames.
Acts 16:23b-24 – Sent to prison to meet a jailer.
God blesses those who remain faithful.
Daniel 3:23-27 – The boys are saved from the flames.
Acts 16:25-26 – An earthquake frees the prisoners.
God may make your enemy your friend.
Daniel 3:28-30 – King’s decree reveres God and the three boys.
Acts 16:29-30 – The jailer and his family receive Christ.
IDOP Sunday: International Day for the Persecuted Church
Many of our churches just observed IDOP Sunday. My encouragement is to help our churches be mindful of our persecuted brethren more frequently. In my last church (Temple Baptist, Sarnia, ON) I put a prayer report on persecuted Christians worldwide in our weekly bulletin… you might think of other ways to keep our church families INFORMED. Let’s find ways to IDENTIFY with brethren who are imprisoned for their faith, separated from family and experience hostility or rejection from family and former friends.
We can all “dare to be a Daniel” and PRAY like Daniel did for the persecuted saints. Join a prayer group interceding for believers in countries known to be religiously oppressive, or add this prayer item each week in your small groups.
And when you are mocked or marginalized or reviled for your Christian beliefs… remember the apostles’ response to societal hostility:
“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.” Acts 5:41 (NLT).
Have a blessed week,