I wonder if you’re like me. Whenever I hear the words, “Christian martyrs,” an image of robed and sandaled early church members in a Roman arena with a hungry lion in the foreground immediately appears in my mind.
Why is that?
The Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt are a reminder that we don’t need to look so far back in history to see Christians suffering for the sake of their Lord.
As Coptic Christians gathered to celebrate the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem, two separate suicide bombers attacked 2 different churches, resulting in a death toll of nearly 50, while injuring 100 more.
Egypt’s ISIS branch took credit for the massacres, which is of course not surprising, particularly as they recently referred to Copts as their “priority and [their] preferred prey.”
Thousands of years have passed since the days facing lions in the Roman Coliseum, yet Christians in the region are still considered “prey.”
Samuel Tadros, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies at the Hoover institution shares this sentiment:“The names of rulers may have changed, from Roman and Byzantine emperors to Muslim caliphs and governors, discriminatory laws changed from the Muslim rules of Dhimmitude, to the exacting, oppressive laws of Egypt’s present-day rulers, but the nature of the Coptic plight has not.
He continues, “Copts are bound by the unique history of a church, a history of suffering. Holy Week may be focused on the pain of Christ, but for the Copts, their pain is seen and felt through His. They have carried their redeemer’s cross on the way to Golgotha, just as they carry a tattooed cross on their arms.”
The mortal struggle of Coptic Christians in Egypt is only one example of modern Christian martyrdom, though.
John L. Allen, Jr., writing for the British online Magazine, The Spectator, defines the massive scope of the persecution of Christians in our time.
According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular observatory based in Frankfurt, Germany, 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. Statistically speaking, that makes Christians by far the most persecuted religious body on the planet.
According to the Pew Forum, between 2006 and 2010 Christians faced some form of discrimination, either de jure or de facto, in a staggering total of 139 nations, which is almost three-quarters of all the countries on earth. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, an average of 100,000 Christians have been killed in what the centre calls a ‘situation of witness’ each year for the past decade. That works out to 11 Christians killed somewhere in the world every hour, seven days a week and 365 days a year, for reasons related to their faith.
What a disservice we do to our spiritual brothers and sisters when we forget or trivialize the sacrifices they’ve made for the beliefs we share – beliefs which we in the US rarely have to sacrifice anything for.
From the comfort of our church auditoriums it is hard to believe that people are dying for hearing and believing the sermons we struggle to pay attention to.
Let us resolve to bring our fellow Christians before the Lord in prayer, that He would uphold them and give them hope and courage in their struggles.
Let us also pray for Christians that are our countrymen, that we would be emboldened by the sacrifice of these forgotten martyrs, to stand for God’s truth in our secularized culture.
To support our efforts please click here or mail your gift to American Decency Association (ADA), PO Box 202, Fremont, MI 49412.
American Decency Association is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.