Persecution towards the church of Jesus Christ is not new, Jesus spoke of it before the church was even formed on several occasions. In Luke 21:12 "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name."
Further in John 15:20 he says, "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."
The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was not an apostle, but one of the members that served tables (Acts 7.) James was killed shortly thereafter by Herod (Acts 12.) These two deaths give us a working definition of how persecution is generally defined. While persecution can be defined as being constantly irritated the persecution most commonly spoken of in the Bible is organized, usually involves more than one persecutor and is usually organized, officially or non-officially. When we use the word persecution in this way we are referring to physical abuse, torture, rape, murder and severe violence, not just the critical remarks of others towards faith.
Persecution still happens in the 'modern, enlightened world." IN the latter half of the 20th century China took center stage as an unprecedented revival encompassed the largest nation on earth. When the Communists took over China, many feared the small struggling church there would be wiped out forever. Instead, a sovereign work of God began and turned into the largest spiritual awakening the world has ever seen. The revival in China shows no signs of waning.
In the latter half of the 20th what began as a small trickle is beginning to turn into a flood as Muslim nations are experiencing a worldwide revival of their own. The modern day Islamic revival seems to have begun in 1979 when students -including who many believe to be the current president of Iran- took over the American Embassy. Few then saw it for what it was, the reawakening of Muslim sentiments in the Middle East. In the last 27 years Islam is experiencing dramatic worldwide expansion, influence and power. Along with that has come a renewed wave of persecution in the Islamic nations. As the list below shows the Muslim and the remaining Communist nations lead the list of persecution nations in order of severity. The other number shows their ranking last year:
|1. North Korea||1|
|2. Saudi Arabia||2|
|18. Myanmar (Burma)||17|
Throughout the week we'll tell some of the stories of those that are suffering for their faith right now.
For more information on the suffering church and how you can help visit these websites: