As we prepare for worship on Sunday, I want to remind you of two things. First, this Sunday Daylight Savings Time will end so when you go to bed on Saturday night be sure to turn your clocks back one hour!
Second, this first Sunday in November has been designated as International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. As a part of our worship, we will view a short presentation on the life of one of the younger members of our Christian family, Sejun of Nepal. We’ll learn more about the spiritual darkness that surrounded him prior to meeting Jesus. We will hear how he has been transformed by the true light of the world, Christ Jesus our Lord.
Admittedly, you and I may not suffer persecution here in the USA. We need to be reminded, though, that worldwide millions of followers of Jesus daily suffer persecution and even martyrdom for the cause of Christ.
It may surprise you to learn that “more Christians have been martyred for their faith in the 20th century alone than in the previous 19 centuries combined.” This is not a wild accusation. It’s a statement of fact based on irrefutable, documented evidence of horrifying atrocities.
For more information, I invite you to read the following books:
1. Their Blood Cries Out: The Worldwide Tragedy of Modern Christians Who Are Dying for Their Faith by Paul Marshall with Lela Gilbert.
2. In The Lion’s Den: A Shocking Account of Persecution and Martyrdom of Christians Today and How We Should Respond by Nina Shea.
3. The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Updated Edition by John Foxe.
In these books, you can read eyewitness accounts of an alphabet of cruelty against Christians worldwide: amputation, bombing, crucifixion, displacement, flogging, kidnapping, murder, prison, rape, slavery, and torture. Why? Because the government and/or extremist groups in those countries have declared that it’s a crime to be a Christian.
I would also encourage you to check out the organization called Voice of the Martyrs. They provide regularly updated examples of Christians being persecuted worldwide.
In addition to praying for those followers of Jesus who are being persecuted, I will also invite you to celebrate and cherish the religious liberty we experience in the USA. It is a right we must be diligent to protect and value.
Blessings, Bill Duke