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. Click To Tweet

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. Click To Tweet

*Post originally written for Pierce Point Community Church blog. See original here.

14 thoughts on “Remembering the Persecuted”

  1. When I was growing up, I rarely heard the stories of fallen soldiers and was just happy to have a three-day weekend, the offiical kick-off for the summer season. How shallow was that? So, when I raised my kids, I thought it was good to attend the local Memorial Day parade to honor the soldiers who were still with us and walking in the parade. We would stand to honor them, our hands held over our hearts in honor of not only them, but the American Flag they so proudly carried. Sometimes, we would visit a local graveyard to find a grave where a soldier was buried and put a flower on that grave.

    I think that taught my kids to remember the freedom is never free, as even our Savior had to die for our freedom from the enslavement to sin. I suppose that knowing that Jesus is eternal life, those martyred for the faith were able to die trusting that this life is not the end of it all. Thank God for that.

  2. The first time I ever heard the word martyr was after Columbine when the stories of Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall. I was 10 years old. Since then I’ve been heartbroken and yet fascinated with accounts of people who were killed because of their faith. The Jesus Freaks books by DC Talk are great reads on this topic too. Thank you for helping us to remember those who died for our country, and those who died for the Lord.

  3. Persecution is a much bigger issue than we sometimes let ourselves think. And it may be coming our way sooner than we realize. We must keep those suffering brothers and sisters in our hearts and prayers. Great post! God bless!

  4. It is hard to comprehend that people are suffering for their faith when I can worship freely. I will pray for those who are martyred for Christ. Some day we could all face persecution and I pray that Lord will help us to face those who seek to give up our faith.

  5. Hi Stephanie. I think disrespect for some who have passed is too common. It seems like an extension of the disrespect for people who are still living. But the loss of life is always sobering, and especially when Heaven is not in the mix. Praise God for people like your grandpa who show us how to honor people, both living and who have passed.

  6. Yes, Stephanie! Love this, “During this time when we remember our national heroes, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters in Christ.” Reminded me of a similar message the Lord gave me on Veteran’s Day. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Yes. I loved the piece you did on Veteran’s Day. (https://www.karengirlfriday.com/letter-thanks-dear-veteran-dear-god/) And I have to say that these are my 2 favorite parts to your post:

      1. To veterans everywhere and of all time, we humbly thank you.

      Forever grateful,

      Citizens of a great nation

      AND

      2. To soldiers of the cross everywhere and of all time, we humbly thank you. To Jesus Christ who conquered death and is crowned King of all, we humbly thank You.

      Forever grateful,

      Citizens of a greater nation

  7. It is sobering to remember how safe and blessed we are in the US while our brothers and sisters around the world suffer. I remember studying the concentration camps in North Korea. It’s brutal what happens there.
    Your post is a good reminder that while I have a lot to be thankful for, many need my prayers, encouragement, and support. Good thoughts, Stephanie.

    1. It is so easy for me to forget to pray for them, Chip. I have to remind myself. I’m sad to say that with all my blessings sometimes it seems that the suffering elsewhere is almost out of sight, out of mind. Please, Lord, make us more aware. Give us a more prayerful heart.

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