What if the American church had one day of severe persecution, a day like those endured by many brothers and sisters in Christ in other nations?
One ministry focused on persecution and tracking developments around the globe claims North Korea is the most unsafe place for believers in Jesus. The selection may not come as a shock, but the data backing up the claim is troubling. Fifty thousand believers spend their days in North Korean prisons. What if thousands of American Christian leaders were arrested and imprisoned today? What if holding fast to faith ushered them into forced labor regimens in prisons where torture is just a matter of routine?
In China, the government is in the midst of another crackdown on Christianity. In 2018, over 1300 attacks on churches were reported worldwide, but in 2019, more than 5000 such attacks occurred in China alone. Can you picture a day in America when several thousand churches are terrorized, services are violently disrupted, and pastors are taken away?
In some African countries, arson is a regular occurrence. Churches, believers’ houses, and sometimes entire villages populated by Christians go up in flames. What if the American church in one day saw scores of buildings set on fire and watched as several leaders lost their homes?
What if many of our brothers and sisters in Christ were killed or taken to prison and afflicted with torture, rape, and other atrocities? What if persecution hit the American church? Would anything change?
I think some believers would be transformed. Some for the better, maybe some for the worse. Sadly, some who play at the Christian life for reasons other than loving God would likely disassociate from Christianity. Others, however, would sober up and begin discipleship in earnest—even if they had a price to pay. Some would go deeper. Yes, some would begin a walk with God more real than they’ve ever known. Some would get stronger having now to swim upstream. Those who know their God would be valiant and do exploits.
Yes, what if the American church had one day of severe persecution like many of our brothers and sisters endure? It would be a day of decision. Who will we serve? It would be a day of awakening, a realization that life is more than immersing one’s self in entertainment and pleasure. Priorities would be radically altered. For those that stand true, the Word of God would be treasured and seen as the ultimate necessity for life. Prayer would be as normal as breathing—continuous, vital, invigorating. Loving Jesus would be the heartbeat of our lives.
American Christians must wake up! Remember those in bonds as though you are together with them (Heb. 13:3). Organizations like Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors USA, and Joel News keep us informed. We know that serious persecution happens daily in our world, and on any given day, eight believers die for their faith. While we should be utterly thankful we live in a country that still has religious freedom, we must be aware of our brothers and sisters suffering under persecution—not just to hold them up in prayer, but to consider their collective example and determine to live rightly prioritized lives. Loving Jesus instead of the world. Unashamed and on fire with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
What if . . .?
John Van Gelderen