Remembering the Persecuted
As I scrolled through Instagram on Memorial Day, I was struck by a friend’s post. As a Marine wife, she took the time to remind her friends that Memorial Day is not really about thanking those who are still with us, it’s about remembering the sacrifice of those who died in service. It took me back to my childhood. To days spent with my grandpa, tending graves or selling red poppies on the grocery store sidewalk. It reminded me how he couldn’t bring himself to talk about what he saw in Vietnam, even when I interviewed him for a school report. It brought back the moment when my career focus unequivocally shifted from archeologist to writer—when he shook his white head and told me that all graves should be respected, no matter how ancient. He understood the meaning of respect, support, and remembrance. As I read that Instagram post on Monday, something else nudged into my heart. Scripture after scripture, characterizing us as God’s army, our world as a battlefield, and our God as our commanding officer. It made me think of all our fallen brothers and sisters who have given their lives in service to our King. According to a 2017 article on The Christian Post, approximately 90K Christians are killed each year, that’s the equivalent of 1 every 6 minutes. Now the article goes on to explain this is a liberal estimate. However, citing the Christian persecution watchdog group, Open Doors, there were 1.2K officially documented martyrdoms between 11/2/2015 and 10/31/2016. This figure is considered conservative, considering the fact that it does not include statistics from various hostile regions and only includes officially documented reports. Either way, the evidence is sobering. (For more detailed information visit the Center for the Study of Global Christianity http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/index.cfm). So what can we do? As we sit in our safe environments and cringe under internet or workplace ‘persecution,’ our brothers and sisters are fighting to stand strong in the face of martyrdom. First, we can pray for them. Pray Ephesians 6:18-20 for them. Second, we can support organizations that are on the front-line, serving the persecuted church. Check out Open Doors (https://www.opendoorsusa.org/) and Voice of the Martyrs (https://www.persecution.com/). Third, through Voice of the Martyrs, you can send petitions, messages, and encouragement to imprisoned Christians. Sometimes the outpouring of support sways their sentences. During this time when we remember our national heroes, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters in Christ.