If you follow the news at all, chances are you know about ISIS. The Middle Eastern terrorist group goes by a few names, the main ones being the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL). The exact numbers are hard to know, but to date ISIS has killed thousands.
While ISIS goes after any group or person who will not convert to Islam, many of their attacks have been on Christians.
About a month and a half ago, on April 20, 2015, ISIS operatives produced a video of the beheading and shooting of 30 Ethiopian Christians. These Christians were given the choice to either renounce their faith or be killed, according to CNN.
Not only is ISIS, and other groups for that matter, persecuting and killing Christians, but also they are purposely advertising the atrocities through videos and social media campaigns.
A similar event took place in February, when 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt were taped being executed on a Libyan Beach.
That video was called A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross, obviously pointing to ISIS’ aspiration to target Christians worldwide.
According to the Christian Post, “ISIS has often targeted Christians in its attacks, and has told them to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed for their faith in the cities it has captured.”
These are just two of the numerous attacks Christians overseas have been facing as of late.
According to a recent Forbes magazine article, Religious Persecution and Hostility on the Rise, “about 5.5 billion people (77 percent of the world’s population) were living in countries with a high or very high overall level of restrictions on religion in 2013, up from… 68 percent as of 2007.”
A 2014 BBC article, Growing Religious Persecution ‘a Threat to Everyone,’ states, “Religious freedom was at risk in 60% of the world’s countries and (has) entered a period of serious decline.” The article goes on to say how a Pew Research Study report shows “the rising tide of anti-Christian persecution in several parts of the world (is) ‘catastrophic,’ pointing out that Christians remain the most persecuted religious minority, due partly to their geographic spread and high relative numbers.”
According to those studies and statistics, persecution in our world is on the rapid rise and Christians are taking the most casualties.
Some of this may sound surprising to you, the reader. Did you know that Christians are being persecuted at such high levels?
Whether this is new information or not, such findings should raise an alarm in our minds and call us to action. Instead, most of us apathetically sit back in our modern, comfortable world while our brothers and sisters overseas are being persecuted and sometimes killed for the very faith we share.
How can we help?
Most of us probably will not go overseas. Many of us do not have much money. However, what we do have is prayer and we should employ it with vigor.
An article called “How to Pray for the Persecuted Church” is up on Cru’s website and is helpful. It suggests we pray for the persecuted believers in the following ways:
- “Please pray persecuted believers would know the hope God gives (Ephesians 1:18).
- Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen them (Ephesians 3:16).
- Please pray persecuted believers would know how much God loves them (Ephesians 3:17)
- Pray they would know how to share the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).
- Please pray persecuted believers would fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Ephesians 6:20).”
However you decide to pray, please do. It is so easy in the comfort of our Western world to forget about what is going on elsewhere. Instead, let’s band together and cry out for those who need it.
Note: This was originally written for our fellowship’s weekly brochure we give out at our main meetings.