Faithful Unto Death: The Persecuted Church

“Christians all over the world are bound together as the body of Christ. Many…do not realise it, but a part of that body is suffering the most terrible persecution and tribulation in the history of mankind. If we are members of that same body – and we are – then we must suffer with them, pray for them, and where it is possible, help them.” – Corrie Ten Boom.

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In keeping with our current international focus, we would like to encourage you to speak for those who have no voice and stand for those who are on their knees.

Christians make up 8% of the Syrian population (Open Doors, 2013). But in the recent tumultuous time, Christians have made up majority of the casualties.

Over 50 Christians have been killed, and many more tortured in the last year.

“How do you want to die?” one survivor of the rebel’s attack was asked. The man, a local Christian leader, suffered a nervous breakdown before he was released from their custody (Christian Freedom, 2013).

Another victim, a young boy, was not so lucky. After being taken captive, had his murder was filmed by the rebels who blamed the action on the government (Christian Freedom, 2013).

In the past year, the city of Homs has been occupied by the rebel forces. 1,500 people have lost their lives there, many of them part of the Christian community.

In September, the al-Qaeda linked rebels seized control of Amman in Jordan, north of Damascus. The attack is rumoured to have been made in pursuit of the ancient city of Maaloula, site of the country’s two oldest monasteries. Religious minorities, mostly Christians, in this city have either fled or been killed. (USA Today, 2013).

But there is hope for the Christians in Syria.

ImageIn the past 2,000 years, the church has striven under pressure. When persecution comes, the church becomes stronger.

Tertullian said in AD 220, “The more you mow us down, the more we multiply. The blood of the Christians is seed.”

In AD 155, when Polycarp, the leader of the church at Smyrna was burnt at the stake for refusing to offer incense to the Roman emperor, the church in Smyrna was scattered. But it grew in number and strength.

As he went to his death, Statius Quadratus records that Polycarp spoke this: “Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt.”

His strength inspired his followers. But his strength came from God.

When Corrie Ten Boom was in her teens, she admitted to her father that she feared she was not strong enough to be a martyr.

Her father replied “Tell me, when you take a trip from Haarlem to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?…No. I give you the money for the ticket just before we get on the train…and so it is with God’s strength. Our wise Father in Heaven knows when you are going to need things too. Today you do not need the strength to be a martyr; but as soon as you are called upon for the honour of facing death for Jesus, He will supply the strength you need – just in time.”

Surely this memory was her greatest comfort when she faced death every day in Ravensbruck Women’s Prison, Germany.

“He is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), and God’s strength will keep the persecuted strong.

But we can help.

As the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), we are bound to each other. Watchman Nee once said, “When my feet were whipped my hands suffered pain.” When the church in Syria hurts, so should we.

ImageWill you stand for the rights of those who are in pain?

Then please consider joining 214,300 others around the world in signing the Open Doors petition for United Nations protection for the persecuted church in Syria.

Follow the link for your country’s respective webpage: http://advocacy.oduk.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=77&ea.campaign.id=22579&ea.tracking.id=Web

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write… I know your works, tribulation, and poverty but you are rich;…Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested…Be faithful until death, and I will give the crown of life.”
– Revelations 2:8-11, abridged.
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