Life is beautiful and imperfect, a source of wonder and a challenge so complex that it’s good to pause from time to time and check our perspective and priorities against eternal truth. Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, is full of daily insight and wisdom that promises to help you navigate today’s culture.
Our 24/7 news cycle is consumed these days with American politicians sparring over the debt ceiling and the implementation of President Obama’s controversial healthcare plan, both important debates to be sure. Meanwhile, the tragic fact that followers of Jesus Christ are being targeted and slaughtered across the globe is given scant attention.
We learned recently of the horrific attack against a Pakistani church by Muslim extremists that killed 85. In Kenya, the jihadists that attacked an upscale mall in Nairobi reportedly killed hostages that couldn’t recite the Koran. Christian pastors in Iran are being jailed and Indian Christians endure violence, imprisonments and even death.
Physical attacks against Christians appear to be on the rise around the world, and yet both the American media – and all too many American Christians themselves – seem to be setting their sights elsewhere. It’s not that we don’t care, it would just appear that we care more about other issues.
Not surprisingly, I’m deeply concerned at this prospect, as I imagine many of you are, too. But why do we find ourselves in this difficult spot? For several reasons, I think.
First, the ease and access of global communication alerts us to these atrocities more quickly than ever. What once took days to reach us now takes seconds via social media. The filter of traditional media is gone. A tiny camera on one smartphone is all it takes to expose the violence of a despot or mob a half a world away. As a result, there seems to be an inordinate amount of bad news to process lately, both domestically and internationally. I think many of us become paralyzed under its weight. We feel helpless. We’re here and they’re there – and so what can we possibly do about it? Unfortunately, many of us tune out, I think, as a means to cope with the sorrow and sadness.
But I wonder if behind the American Christian’s disconnect with the plight of our brothers and sisters across the globe is also an ignorance of historical Christendom itself. Could it be that we’ve become so comfortable with the freedom we have to worship in the United States that we too easily dismiss the violence against Christians elsewhere as something of an anomaly? To do so is a grave mistake.
Dating back to the early Church, Christians have been the victims of regular and repeated persecution. From the Emperor Nero in the first century to Diocletian and Galerius in the third and fourth, right up to modern-day oppression in communist countries and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, millions upon millions of believers throughout history have died for espousing a belief that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world.
According to Pew Research, the growth of Islam and Islamic-led governments in the Middle East and North Africa has led to a steep decline in the numbers of Christians in those regions, from 9.5 percent of the population just a few generations ago to just 3.8 percent in 2010.
This is not to say that Christianity is dying. The fact is, the Gospel is a force that cannot be stopped. But it would seem a wise and worthy endeavor if Christians in the U.S. would commit to praying earnestly for those sisters and brothers in harm’s way elsewhere. We need to ask the Lord to soften our hearts to the plight of the persecuted church.
Voice of the Martyrs, Christian Freedom International and Freedom House are three organizations that can help you stay connected with our brothers and sisters living through unspeakable hardships for the sake of the Gospel. I encourage you to connect with them through social media so you can get periodic updates that will prompt you to take a minute and pray.
By lifting up this important issue and encouraging believers to “pray without ceasing,” we unleash God’s power.
Prayer is effective.
Prayer is the answer.
Lord, I ask you to pour out your grace, strength, and mercy upon our brothers and sisters across the globe who are suffering in your name. Amen.
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-- Thanks for being bold sharing the truth.May the Lord bless you.
--Thanks for this. The persecution of our brothers and sisters and the upheaval and violence in the Middle East and North Africa has really been on my heart. Our family has been praying every night for them. Thanks for writing about this and calling us to prayer.~Liz
--I think Christians care about what is happening but the Christian media isn't biggest news source. The media of the left is the problem. They don't care because they have a faulty idea about Muslims and paganism. The dems actually invited people of all faiths to pray before their national election campaign gathering. They live in denial about the nature of Islam and what is actually happening in these days. They have an idea peace is possible, but the Muslims don't want peace, they want to take over the world by the sword of Islam. The Bible predicts God's people will be beheaded in the last days - Islam is why that will happen. People don't seem to understand how late the hour is or how close to the Lord's return we are. Speaking of end-times let us also pray for California. I think a horrible judgement is coming on Oct. 3rd. 2013
--Our best defense is an awesome army. But then, I'm a guy and I love the army, especially when it's protecting the ones I love. I praise the UAVs & APCs created by my fellow believers and the little UAWs like "Switchblade". Sometimes my fellow believers are appalled by my enthusiasm for aggressively defending Christians, I'm sure the Apostles would be with me on this. I don't understand why our government supports the Al Qaeda jihad factions who are murdering Christians in Syria & Iraq, but I'm sustained by my brothers in uniform who are with us in spirit. On this topic, I guess you could call me a Crusader.
--Thank you, Jim for reminding us to remember those who are suffering for the cause of Christ and not to take our freedoms for granted. It is so easy to be apathetic and hardened to the plight of those we cannot see and just by the sheer, overwhelming horror of what we know to be occurring. God help us to pray fervently, effectively and without ceasing. He is the answer.
--I agree, pray, pray , pray for our brothers & sisters ! Prayer is such a powerful (spiritual) weapon .We do not realize , I believe, the full potential of the gift we have been given(prayer). I had recently signed up with The Voice of the Martyrs. You can even send letters to some imprisoned. Sometimes they don't receive the letters, but sometimes the guards will let them know how many letters came. The material I was reading on that , said that just knowing how many letters came , lifts their spirit and encourages them. Thank you for reminding us where our battle lies! Love in Christ!
--it is obvious that these martyrs for Yeshua are know to the Lord but for the world and it's position on such events are unimportant and not "news" worthy. given what our society is changing into they are just about there as the book of "revelation describes" denying God and shaking their fists in "his face" daring God to intervene. The day is coming when that will happen, pray for those being persecuted for our day is not far behind. Keep the Faith and un the race as Paul declared. if anything these deaths should be a wake up call for the Christians living in the west. Our Faith will be tested and may be unto death are you ready for that? I am the question that needs to be asked and answered is "are you ready to lay down your life for Yeshua, Jesus Christ, you Savior? will are you? If anything "Focus on the Family I suggest you take the initiative and ask this hard question on a survey given to you constituents and the public having them indicate if they are followers of Yeshua acknowledging in a statement of faith with in your survey they are true followers of Yeshua an they would lay don heir life if need be, even in the USA if this should happen. Shalom and Blessings to my Friends and Family working at Focus on the Family where I worked for nearly 13 years before an illness that caused my leaving to occur. Brother Jan Fowler
--I am concerned over the article by Freedom House - would as a Christian Organization respond to this article is particular?
Freedom House is deeply concerned about a new wave of discriminatory bills against LGBTI rights in Kazakhstan and Russia, as parliaments in both countries have proposed new draconian restrictions on the rights of LGBTI people.
--Prayer is indeed a mighty weapon we can use to help our suffering brothers and sisters. Also, the knowledge that it is only a matter of time before the persecution will affect us here in the US. It already has, but we are not waking up!
We have been involved in a ministry to reach out to immigrants, especially Iraqi muslims, for over three years now. The ONLY solution is reaching hearts and minds with the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. God has brought them here to us, but still we do not make disciples. Getting others to help us is frustrating. We need to put feet on our prayers!
--Jim, thank you for raising the issue. I agree, as a government we are ignoring the plight of a highly vulnerable minority upon whom are atrocities committed daily; and worse yet, that we as Christians are ignoring the systematic targeting and genocide of our fellow Christians. What must our Lord be thing of our stewardship of His kingdom on earth? Why do we feel that we won't be numbered with the goats when He judges our service to Himself? Lord please forgive us, and deliver us also from apathy, help us to remember it's You that's being persecuted (Matt 25). Pastors, elders pray, fast and seek our Lord's guidance on what we should DO.
--I agree this is a huge issue her in America. The skill of empathy seems to be void in our generation. Thank you for calling this back to the power of prayer.
--An effective way to pray for these attackers is to use Luke 6:28 (bless those who curse you...). 1. RECOGNIZE that you are part of the church body being cursed (accept the curse as your own). 2. RECOGNIZE that a curse is a CONNECTION that one or more persons has initiated (not you) with foul intent. 3. USE that same connection to BLESS THE CURSER (ala Lord, I/we didn't start this (problem area) fight, but will you pour your love on those attacker(s)? Please begin to impart grace, give them revelations of the real battle, will you help them to find you. Most importantly, will you use this connection to write their names in the Lamb's Book of Life?
--I totally agree with JJJoseph. A strong army is our best defense. Since I am a mature Mom, I must depend on my awesome son in the Army Natl Guard to be my Crusader. Thank you Mr. Joseph for your service. Onward Christian soldiers!
--You struck a nerve here. Thank you! God for give our apathy – MY apathy! It's too easy to ignore news bites. Too easy to do nothing. To feel nothing. If I want to identify with my fellow believers – and with God's heartbreak – I need to pay attention and go deeper. Thank you for the reminder, for the sources, and for the wake-up call!
--"...right up to modern-day oppression in communist countries and Bashar al-Assad in Syria..." -- In the interest of accuracy you might want to double-check who was responsible for the recent atrocities against Christians in Syria. Was it Bashar al-Assad, or was it Muslim extremists in the rebel camp?