Int’l (MNN) – Being a Christian in many places means persecution. As the world slips further into 2019, that trend is growing.

A Spike in Persecution

From state-sponsored backlash to familial pressures, faith in Christ is under attack. This is increasingly true in countries dominated by radical Islamic ideologies.

Samuel with Redemptive Stories explains that while the presence of Isis is slimming overall, their ideology continues to live. “An ideology that, is although a minority among most Islamic scholars, but it is an acceptably held understanding of Qur’anic and Scriptural interpretation.

“And so therefore, this is an ideology that can’t be fought with weapons, and knives, and war. It has to be fought with the Gospel. And with… so with that reality, I think we’re going to continue to see a spike in persecution across this part of the world, especially as the church continues to grow in this part of the world.”

Community-Enforced Ideology

Samuel further identifies that ideological persecution won’t just be from governments in 2019. While many Near East and Middle East countries have blasphemy or anti-conversion laws on the books, daily persecution comes from communities more than governments.

“Persecution here looks a lot different than in places, I think, like the far East and China, unless you are in Iran. It’s not usually state-sponsored persecution.”

Samuel continues, “But it’s usually familial, communal persecution that believers face in this area. It can be things like loss of job, it can be violence. It takes on various different forms. You know the person persecuting them is often the same person that sits across from them at the breakfast table in the morning.”

Persecution from family lines, friends, and coworkers is common. The government may step in, but often the Christian’s community is the group trying to shut down their faith.

Promised Trouble and Prayer

This makes it especially difficult for Christians in those communities. There are few people to trust. The fear of being cut off from their community, beaten or killed is a real struggle.

This is not surprising. Samuel reminds us that Christ promised such things. In John 15 Jesus tells His disciples that as the world hated Him, it will also hate His followers. Yet, knowing that doesn’t mean persecution will be an easy lot to accept.

“And so because of that, we beg the Church to pray, to intercede on our behalf, that we would stand strong in the midst of that persecution. That we would be faithful to the calling of Christ on our lives; that we would communicate boldly.

Refugee Child (Photo courtesy of MaximilianV on Flickr https://goo.gl/ZrkmhR)

“Not to pray necessarily that God would take away the persecution, because we know that persecution is also an essential part of the growth of His Church. But we primarily ask that God would use that persecution to make His name known and to grow us through that experience as well.”

In addition to prayer, Samuel asks the Church to support organizations that work with the persecuted Church. Whether those organizations provide counseling, travel assistance to Christian refugees or something else, they need the Church.

Use the 2019 World Watch List as a way to pray for and learn about how you can support persecuted Christians.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Mohammad Moniruzzaman via Flickr.