Among all religions, are Christians the most persecuted? Back in 2010 the Toronto Star published this article asserting that that was the case.
Earlier this year on 10 April, Prime Minister David Cameron likewise asserted that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.
The events in Mosul are bringing this question out into the open–are Christians really that persecuted? Is this violence limited to a few places that make the news, or is it a reality for many more than we can imagine.
It is easy to think of Sudan–where Meriam Yehya Ibrihim has been released–or North Korea or Nigeria, where the violence has been in the news lately. Other countries have stayed out of the news by keeping the violence to an “orderly” level. Maldives, Laos, Bhutan, and Comoros rank in the list of 50 countries with the most persecution (www.opendoorsusa.org).
The question of persecution is a missions question–how does the Gospel get communicated into those places where to be a believer (or a missionary) includes the possibility of suffering and death? The question of persecution is also a sending Church question–how do preach and teach about suffering and persecution? Do we have a working theology of being the whole Church together in Christ, where we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep?
And notice again that as we engage missions “out there somewhere” we find ourselves wrestling with God’s purposes for us “at home right here”. Missions is the exercise that keeps the Church healthy–without engaging missions, the adventure of faith, we become lazy pew potatoes.
Heavenly Father, I can’t fix or save all of my brothers and sisters who are suffering right now–in fact, I can’t keep up with the news of this country and that tragedy. Help me to know that you however know the names of every single brother and sister who is suffering on account of Jesus’ name right now–and by your Holy Spirit, help me to care, to pray, and to reach out to those that I can engage. And Father, you are righteous and holy: we implore you to reveal your righteousness in the world today, protect the innocent, defend the weak, raise up your people and allies of your people to stand firm in the face of evil and persecution. Father in your mercy and compassion, reveal your love to the persecutors, that they too might see Jesus, know his forgiveness, and discover the joy of his reconciliation. Come Holy Spirit come. In Jesus name.