Acts 8:1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Imagine that it is Saturday night and you are having a group of Christians to your house for a small, impromptu Bible study to study, eat, and hang out. During the course of the night there is a knock on your door. You get up from your recliner and open the door to six men armed with AK-47’s who barge into your house screaming “GET ON THE *$&# GROUND NOW!”
Still screaming and threatening the others in the group these men throw you to the ground, grab your wife by her hair and drag her into the living room and throw her to the floor with the rest of the group. Then they go through your house and drag your sleeping children to the living room. In front of your group they put your wife and children on their knees and shoot them in the face without ever asking you a question. The rest of you are severely beaten and abused before cuffed and hauled off to prison.
Are you awake yet? Maybe you think what a great piece of fiction, maybe you think this isn’t a reality, or maybe you think this is an exaggeration. Regardless of what you think, I am sorry to say in many countries this is actually a reality. In Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Egypt, China, and other countries around the world the cost of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ literally can cost you everything. Not to long ago an Iranian pastor was arrested and condemned to death for Apostasy.
This isn’t anything new. Ten of the original twelve apostles where martyred for the faith. The early church in Fox’s Book of Martyrs tell us story after story of those murdered for the faith.
It is estimated that there are 250,000 Christians murdered a year on behalf of the Faith. Paul was murdered for his faith. In Acts 8 we see Saul (Paul) who is persecuting the Church and murdered Stephen. It says that the church came under great persecution and they were scattered. The church scattered, they went underground, became secretive and conducted their mission under the guise of something else.
Many in America would have you believe that this isn’t even a possibility. I am here to tell you it is. I am not a doomsday guy. I am not predicting calamity in the United States, but more drawing awareness to what is happening worldwide.
However, it is important to realize that at one time in history Egypt was a Christian nation. Now look at the persecution of the Coptic Christians. At one time Romania was a Christian nation and now you have to have a license from the government to preach and there are laws against preaching openly in public. At one point the Bible and prayer were not only allowed in our public forums but also encouraged and accepted. The reality is that the influence of the church in America has been and continues to wane. Who knows what could happen in 30 years, 40 years, 100 years from now.
If today the world is ripped out from underneath your feet and everything were to drastically change are you ready to go underground? Are you prepared to live out your faith like those people in Iran, China, Somalia, Egypt and elsewhere?
It might be a worthwhile thought that as an American and a Christian to put yourself in the shoes of our brothers and sisters in those countries and consider their plight and how we can stand against the tide of our culture as it departs from the Gospel.
Image: courtesy of www.harappa.com/magic/11.html; author William Henry Jackson (1843–1942); public domain/copyright expired.