May 25, 2017
According to a report issued by the Center for Studies on New Religions, there were 90,000 Christians killed for their faith in 2016. As Robert Nicholson of the Philos Project has said, "There are many places on earth where being a Christian is the most dangerous thing you can be." Open Doors, a non-denominational organization which supports persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries, has reported that there are 215 million Christians today who face intimidation, physical harm, loss of property and even death simply because they were Christians.
The media will give some reports of the ongoing attempts by ISIS radicals to wipe out Christianity in Syria and Iraq. But, Christians are being persecuted in many other places, such as Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Even in North and South America where Christianity is accepted, Christians are under attack for their beliefs.
From her very birth, the Church has faced persecution. After healing the lame beggar at the gate of the Temple in Jerusalem, Peter preaches the gospel. He is immediately arrested along with John and brought to trial. Before being released, they are warned to cease their preaching. But, they do not. Because they refused to be silent, they are once again dragged before the Sanhedrin. Peter boldly responds to their adversaries, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Jesus had prepared his disciples for persecution. In the Sermon on the Mount, he told them, "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt 5:11-12). At the Last Supper, Jesus again reminded them of the hardships yet ahead. He said, "A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (Jn 15:20).