For many who profess the name of Jesus and live according to the Word, it is a deeply dangerous time to be alive. There are consistent new reports of difficulties, loss of homes, unlawful imprisonment, and even death.
Here are just a few statistics on the persecuted church:
- 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016 (That is one Christian dying for their faith every six minutes)
- 70% of Christians killed in 2016 were the result of tribal conflict in Africa
- The top 10 countries for religious persecution are: North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea
Yet, as many organizations work to help the persecuted church, the dispositions of those who have seen horrific events happen to them remains consistent.
- “God didn’t leave me or let me down. He stayed with me toward the end to show me His existence,” a Syrian pastor who was sentenced to death for not denying Jesus.
- “Every day I ask Him that in all of this suffering that I am passing through that He will give me courage – that nothing will tempt me to turn back from Him,” a woman in Nigeria who was imprisoned and lost her baby during an attack on her village.
- “Even though we are persecuted, it is for the advance of the Gospel. I desire to die a martyr’s death, because precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints,” a young man in Burma who is burdened to preach the Gospel in his country.
While persecution is devastating, churches and Christians everywhere continue to persevere. And they are seeing the fruit of their love for Jesus and their neighbors all around them! Not only do these Christians share the Gospel, but they also share their food, clothing, shelter, and aid they receive with their communities, which often include those who have persecuted them.
We wanted to share one particular story that touched our hearts. Pastor Morris Kartina is a pastor in the Nuba Mountain Region of Sudan. He lives and preaches in a dangerous area, constantly on alert with the ongoing war. He partners with With Open Eyes and receives support from Persecution Project Foundation, helping his community get the aid and resources they need without discrimination.
Word of his generosity is spreading. As famine grows and the war rages on, Pastor Morris has made an impact on one particular Brigadier General for Al-Qaeda named Refaut Abdallah Ahmad. Ahmad is currently a POW in Pastor Morris’ community. Who he is and who he is associated with has not stopped Pastor Morris from showing him kindness.
The kind folks at Persecution Project Foundation followed Pastor Morris to interview the Brigadier General and this is what he had to say about Pastor Morris,” “That is not a normal man! Every three months he visits me, bringing items to help me and my men. Shoes, clothes, sugar, salt, blankets, etc. He is NOT a normal man.”
What a powerful testimony!
At With Open Eyes, we want to bring stories like these to light. There is mighty work being done in the name of Jesus in Africa through the endurance and dedication of men like Pastor Morris, and our Pastor Simon and thousands of others.
In times of division and distress here in America, it is important for Christians to keep a global perspective of the church. We cannot lose sight of the true cost of following Jesus for many of our brothers and sisters.
As we enter the Easter season and meditate on the great sacrifice of Jesus, we must also remember the body of Jesus around the world. May we bow our knees and intercede for those who are losing everything for their faith and pray that our witness might be faithful for Jesus, no matter the cost.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11