Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Facing Persecution

Have you ever been just minding your own business when, suddenly, you’re startled by something so heinous, you don’t know how to react? Yesterday on Twitter, I came across a link referencing the torture of a Saudi man caught reading a Bible. Yes, I clicked on the link, but I shouldn’t have. I wasn’t prepared for the graphic horror of the torture. Shaken and sickened, I attempted to research the origin and authenticity of the photo. After a few minutes of research, I let it go. Every time the image flashes in my mind, my stomach roils.

Whether the photo depicted a man punished for his Christian faith or a horrible, tragic accident, it brought to mind the persecution facing Christians in the world today. According to statistics:

More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in all previous centuries combined. 171,000 Christians were martyred in 2005 [Int. Journal of Missionary Research] (
American Christians have been in the enviable position of not worrying about martyrdom within our shores, and until recently, haven’t really felt the sting of persecution. With our current political environment, Christian persecution and marginality has become more commonplace in America. Even in the U.S. military, Christian soldiers are threatened with court martial if they share their faith. 

While the potential exists for increasing tribulation, many American Christians, and perhaps others worldwide, believe we will not face the ultimate tribulation described in Revelation. Instead, Christians will be raptured prior to these events. Some Biblical scholars disagree with this philosophy. Both sides have compelling arguments.

I’m not writing to espouse argument or take sides on this issue while our brothers and sisters around the world are persecuted and martyred. It really doesn’t matter how we, as American Christians, choose to comfort ourselves with our beliefs on future events.

What matters is what’s happening now. Bringing unbelievers to the saving grace of Christ, despite personal cost, has to be foremost in the life of a Christian. Saying it is one thing, but living it is another.

Have you ever stopped to consider why the persecuted, mostly from impoverished or oppressed countries, are willing to give their lives for their faith?

Could it be because God is the most important thing in their lives? Christianity trumps their very existence.

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Pakistani mother has been sentenced to death for “blasphemy,” due to her Christian faith.
Recently, a large church in Iran was shut down and its pastor imprisoned.
Christians in Sudan face escalating persecution for their faith.

Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in the infamous Evin Prison, considered the worst in Iran, for over a year. He was building a government approved orphanage but was arrested due to his Christian faith.
For more examples and up-to-date information on the persecuted, visit Voice of the Martyrs.
Regardless of how we choose to live our Christian faith, two overriding tenets should form the basis for our character and action.

From the Ten Commandments:

“I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3


Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

When the Christian life is viewed through the lenses of these tenets, the willingness of our brothers and sisters to risk persecution becomes clearer. And then the question becomes: To what degree is God the only god in our lives, and do our lives reflect total love for Him? 

Please join me in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters living in restricted and oppressed nations.

Other Prayer Requests:
From Courtney: I'm asking for special prayers today as I head up to Duke [for 2-month follow-up brain MRI]. I am praying for a clear report and safe travels. Thank you very much!

From Misty, Erica’s mom: Erica's knee surgery next Wed. It's called medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction.

From Janey: My husband leaves for a missions trip to Greece August 16-26. My prayer request is multifaceted: protection for him traveling an in country; peace in our home as I single parent and homeschool our four children; and God to accomplish all He desires in Darren, the other mission participants, and the pastors, children, and families to whom they'll be ministering. Thanks.

From Laura H: Tim Fryman family... Tim was 20 years old and died of an aneurysm. His funeral is today. He was friends with my son, and I can imagine the pain the family is facing right now.

A lady asks for prayer for her brother and mother in regards to mental health and safety issues. 

Our regular prayer list is located at the top of the blog along with info on Sgt. Jesse McCart, an American soldier injured by an IED in Afghanistan.

Also, the Mission page has info on my Christian brother, Pastor Mike Gonzalez, as he has led a mission team into South Sudan this week. They will also be ministering in Kenya. I just learned this morning of a devastating fire at Kenya's main airport the mission team flew into and have flights planned four times through the duration of the trip. This airport is the gateway for travel in Africa.  

Prayers for all these folks would be greatly appreciated!

If you have a prayer need, please feel free to share it in the comments so others may pray for you, or e-mail me confidential requests. J


©Laura Hodges Poole

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. America has been blessed so much freedom, we are removed from the realities going on all over the world.

    I did a book review a while back about those willing to die for their faith. It was a pretty good book,
    “Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim world?” by Tom Doyle