This past week I read an article about the 50 hardest countries to live as a Christian. It was a survey and study to determine the places where Christians are most persecuted.
As you sort through the list, most of the nations are what you would expect. North Korea has been at the top of the list for 14 straight years. Concentration camps and intense persecution of all kinds are the norm in North Korea.
The other countries on the list are mostly middle eastern and northern Africa. While North Korea is first on the list the next four nations are almost as bad. Iraq, where “Christians are on the verge of extinction,” moved to number two on the list, followed by Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Syria.
More than 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith last year, a number excluding North Korea, Syria, and Iraq where numbers are difficult to come by. The number of churches attacked doubled to 2,400 from the previous year.
What should we do in the face of such intense persecution around the world?
First, Christians who live in relative peace should give thanks for the freedom to declare our faith and to live according to the beliefs we hold dear.
I understand that our freedom has been challenged in the United States, but we still have a level of religious freedom unlike anywhere in the world.
We need to remember that religious freedom as we experience it in the USA is quite different from even Great Britain and the European nations where religious freedom is not a value.
Second, we must pray fervently for our brothers and sisters around the world. Many of these are experiencing first century type persecution where crucifixions, beheadings, and financial ruin are common.
We must seek God’s protection and blessings on our brothers.
Third, we must use every opportunity to give the reason for the hope that we have in Christ. We must not take our freedom for granted. We must use it to help others know the Lord.
Finally, we must follow the example of so many of our brothers who are suffering for Jesus and living for Him. Persecuted Christians “the world over will often say, ‘We are persecuted because we are doing something right, and this persecution shows we are ripe fruit for Christ.’ ” May we have an attitude of rejoicing to be able to suffer for Christ.
Where is the hardest place to live as a Christian? Probably, where you are right now. It is not the outward things that are the problem; it is the inner attitude of our heart.
Are you using every opportunity to share what God has done for you in Christ?
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