Date: January 7, 2019
A report on the support of persecuted Christians by Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt
As reported in the Guardian, “The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered an independent, global review into the persecution of Christians of all nationalities amid claims that not enough is being done to defend the rights of nearly 200 million Christians at risk of persecution today.”
Continuing, the Guardian states, “Hunt believes that growing persecution of Christians in some countries is often a symbol of wider persecution. Christian groups claim as many as 3,000 Christians were killed in 2018, a doubling of last year’s figure.”
Even major publications such as Newsweek have recognized the onslaught against Christians, giving front page coverage to the situation.
Persecution Expected to Rise in 2019
With persecution of Christians expected to rise in 2019, Hunt’s support is welcome news. As Britain’s foreign secretary, Hunt, along with clergyman, Philip Mounstephen led the charge, bringing awareness of Christian persecution to a worldwide stage and thereby giving international attention to the dire circumstances surrounding many Christians in volatile regions in the world.
Concerning the regions, Open Doors International provides rankings of countries given to Christian persecution, ranging from extreme and very high to high.
Extreme persecution regions include Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen in Africa, and Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan in the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and North Korea in Asia. Very high regions include, but not limited to East Africa, most of the nations in the Middle East, and the broad Kazakhstan region in central Asia. High regions include countries in South and Central America, West Africa, China, and various islands in the Pacific rim.
Help the Suffering Church
What can you do to help the persecuted Christians?
Samaritan’s Purse accepts donations, stating, “Jesus taught His followers that persecution would come. ‘If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you’ (John 15:20). And this persecution has come to millions of Christians worldwide. Countless churches have been targeted, and people have lost their homes and their countries as they fled for safety. Millions of Christians are now refugees because of this persecution, and Samaritan’s Purse is working with church partners to provide for daily needs and essential services. ‘Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith’ (Galatians 6:10).”
Neal Samudre, writing for the HuffPost, recommends the following: educate yourself, pray, writer letters, don’t feel guilty—you aren’t being persecuted, and volunteer your skills to help alleviate the suffering.
Finally, support groups that concentrate on the persecution of Christians, such as Voice of the Martyrs, founded by Lutheran pastor Richard Wurmbrand, or Open Doors founded in 1955 by Andrew van der Bijl, a Dutchman known as Brother Andrew.
How Much More We Can Love
In 1997 the rock band I was a member, Widow’s Mite, recorded a song entitled Suffer They (Garden Rises Up), naming the album after the song. When I wrote the lyrics for the piece, I just finished Richard Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ. I recommend Wurmbrand’s book for his insight into Christian persecution, as well as the remedy Wurmbrand gives to those persecuted: love. Wurmbrand writes, “God will judge us not according to how much we endured, but how much we could love.”
One of the sublime things you can pray for persecuted Christians is that they love—both Christ as well as the people inflicting the pain of persecution. Furthermore, the Bible calls the church to love our brothers and sisters being persecuted (Hebrews 13:3), putting feet to our faith by helping alleviate the suffering our fellow Christians face.
I leave you with the opening verse for Suffer They (A Garden Rises Up).
Suffer They: A Garden Rises Up
Torture rains down like fire
Lives are lost, tongues are silenced
Bodies bruised and banished bare
Minds are burned with scenes un-dared
Who are these that shed their blood?
Who are these that bare His name?
Who is this that died for love?
These, my friends, are the martyred ones
Suffer they the martyred ones
A sower’s life planting seeds of love
A life was laid down,
But a garden rises up.
Amidst the persecution, lets pray a garden of love rises up in the lives of the people affected by persecution. And remember to support people like Jeremy Hunt as they lead the current concern for persecuted Christians around the world.