Lately it seems many of us are caught up in the American election campaign. Even Canadian media channels are flooded with daily accounts and news stories about what each candidate did or said. It’s become a kind of reality show on our televisions and radios, in our magazines and on social media.
There is no question that what happens on November 8 is of great consequence – and not just to Americans. We should be paying attention.
But this November, let’s remember also to turn our attention to a different situation of great urgency and great injustice that continues on a daily basis. Unlike the US election, this other situation is largely ignored by mainstream media, and is worsening at an alarming rate.
Globally, massive populations of Christian believers face horrific and unimaginable treatment at the hands of their enemies for one simple reason – they believe in Jesus Christ and declare it publicly.
According to the Pew Research Foundation, more than 75 per cent of the world’s population, many of them Christians, live in areas with severe religious restrictions. Open Doors reports that 100 million Christians suffer because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
We need to pray!
Breaking down those numbers means that each month 322 Christians are killed, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms of violence (including beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages) are committed against Christians.
In the face of all this, these precious souls stand firm in their faith. Why? Because their love of Jesus compels them to believe, to declare and to be named one of His own, regardless of the cost.
It’s amazing to learn who these persecuted Christians are praying for. As the Bible instructs, they pray for those who persecute them, but they are also praying for us! Praying that our faith would also be strong.
Sobering indeed. There is much we here in Canada have to learn from our persecuted sisters and brothers.
But it can feel overwhelming, especially when we consider the staggering numbers. As much as we want to help, it’s easy to feel helpless. What can we do to rescue these millions of brothers and sisters in countries so far away?
A good place to start is to listen to that tug at our hearts – caring and wanting to help.
Another starting place is to recognize that the only difference between us is where each was born. We are indeed blessed to live in Canada. Even though there have been challenges to religious freedom of late, we are not jailed, beaten or beheaded for declaring our devotion to Christ. Thank God, such oppression remains unthinkable here in Canada. And yet, it is a reality in countries like North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Syria. (Those are the top five of the 50 countries highlighted on the World Watch List of Christian Persecution).
So if God in His wisdom placed our dear brothers and sisters in a homeland where there is such injustice, and us in ours where we live in daily freedom – we need to ask ourselves, What is it that God requires from those of us who live in freedom?
Above all, He requires us … first, simply … to pray.
It may sound like a trite and somewhat inactive response to a desperate situation. But it must be where we start.
It’s where we join with God in his purpose and plans for those in desperate circumstances.
We will also find ourselves joining in unison with millions of others across the globe who are raising their voices to God, crying out on behalf of our Christian family.
We may find God’s whisper in our hearts becoming more of a shout. If that happens, here are some more actions we can take. We can…
- Learn more about the persecution of Christians worldwide, for example at IDOP.ca.
- Learn from the five Canadian partner organizations that contribute to IDOP.ca, including more about what they do and how we can help.
- Contact the Canadian government about its support and interventions on behalf of these dear souls living under persecution. If we feel more needs to be done, we need to ask for it by writing to our MP! Find more at the EFC’s website that will help you with what to say and who to send it to.
Let’s encourage each other to pray – including when the final results of the American election are announced November 8. Let’s remind each other to pray for those who are our Christian family, who desperately need God’s comfort, strength and rescue. In particular, let’s seize the opportunity on November 13, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, to join together in prayer. And let’s dare to attend to whatever God may speak to our hearts about the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters going forward.
This year’s IDOP Canada theme is “Sharing in His Sufferings,” inspired by 2 Corinthians 1:5. It encourages us: “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” Learn more at www.IDOP.ca.