Tuesday, May 19, 2020 : By Nathan Wehrly
From Christ’s first miracle to the present day, Christians have endured a tremendous amount of criticism, skepticism and persecution. Whether it be the Roman guards crucifying Christ or believers being murdered in the Middle East, Christians have dealt with a near-genocidal level of persecution.
To understand Christian persecution, we must look to history. Around 27 A.D., Jesus began his earthly ministry by preaching that He came, not to overthrow Rome, but to save us from our sin. The Sanhedrin considered His teaching blasphemy and tried Jesus. Pontius Pilate sentenced Him to be crucified by a criminal’s death on a cross.
Paul was beheaded. Stephen was stoned. Andrew was crucified. Peter was hung. Thomas was murdered. Philip was beaten to death. Bartholomew was beheaded. Simon was crucified. James was clubbed to death. Excluding Matthias and John, each disciple of Christ met gruesome and horrible deaths, simply for professing the love of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, times have not changed, and Christians are still being persecuted by the millions.
From China suppressing churches, genocide in the Middle East and targeted terrorist attacks, Christians are being oppressed, persecuted and murdered at astounding rates.
On Easter morning of April 21, in Sri Lanka, 259 people were instantly killed, and 500 others were seriously injured after seven Islamic extremists detonated their suicide vests. While no group explicitly claimed responsibility for the vicious attack, it is widely accepted that the National Thowheed Jamath, an Islamic extremist group, was responsible for the attack. This is one of many examples in which Christians are being targeted and murdered for their faith.
Christian persecution goes far beyond isolated terrorist attacks. While still a leader on the world stage, the state of China has been a horrendous perpetrator of Christian persecution. According to the China Aid report, roughly 10,000 Christian churches have been forced to close their doors, citizens are being forced to renounce their faith and the government has demolished sacred Christian churches. This highlights the steps that China has taken to proactively persecute the lives of nearly 100 million Christians.
Perhaps the most drastic example of Christian persecution can be found in the Middle East. This issue has been carefully studied by British Member of Parliament, Jeremy Hunt. Hunt argues, in his report on Christian persecution, that “though the decline of Christians from the Middle East started in the early 20th century … millions of Christians have been uprooted from their homes, and many have been killed, kidnapped, imprisoned and discriminated against.”
Hunt asserts that because of the widespread acts of murder, martyrdom and vicious persecution, “The main impact of such genocidal acts against Christians is exodus.”
The persecution has become so immense that Christians have nearly disappeared from Israel, the land where Christianity was founded.
In 2019 alone, it is estimated that nearly 260 million Christians experience high levels of persecution, 3,000 Christians have been murdered for their faith and nearly 4,000 believers are currently imprisoned. Outside of the United States, Christians live in heartbreaking persecution.
From the conception of Christianity, Christians have been hunted and persecuted, simply for professing the glory of God’s name. The life of a Christian was never meant to be easy.
Matthew 5:44 states “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This is our calling; to extend the hand of grace and mercy to a fallen and sinful world.
With the same amount of grace and mercy we are called to show to the world, we must also be proactive in protecting our rights to practice Christianity. Throughout the majority of the world, religious liberty is tarnished, and Christians are persecuted.
Whether it be individual terrorist attacks or institutionalized discrimination, Christians face a tremendous amount of persecution, globally. This is the horrific reality for Christians.
The United States is perhaps one of the last strongholds for Christianity. With few other countries explicitly protecting the establishment of religion, we must fight against any infringement on our right to openly serve a caring, merciful and just God. We must elect Christ-centered leaders who unapologetically live for and protect Christianity. This is the mandate of each and every Christian: to proclaim Christ to a fallen world, to unapologetically forgive sinners, boldly defend Christianity and become an unwavering light for Christ.
 “Christian Persecution.” Open Doors USA. Accessed April 17, 2020. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/.