Our church doesn’t have metal detectors. As I watched CNN last week, that thought entered my mind.
They were reporting the ISIS attacks on Christian churches in Egypt. The second explosion occurred outside a Coptic Church in the city of Alexandria. The reason the bomb didn’t explode inside the church is that the bomber couldn’t make it past the security and metal detectors at the entrance of the church.
My church doesn’t have metal detectors. We don’t need security outside our church.
As of right now, the death toll from the two bombings in Egypt is 49, with over 100 injured. This was just the latest in a string of attacks on the Christian population in Egypt.
Church historian David Barrett estimates that around 70,000,000 Christians have been martyred – killed for their faith in Jesus – since the time of the apostles. What may surprise you is that the last one hundred years have been the bloodiest.
Roughly 17,000,000 Christians were killed or died in prison camps in Communist Russia. It is common knowledge that 6,000,000 Jews died during the Holocaust. What many don’t know is that 1,000,000 Christians died in those same Nazi concentration camps.
From 1950 to 1980, Chinese leaders attempted to eradicate churches in what they called the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.” Churches were razed. Believers were imprisoned. Around 700,000 Christians were killed.
In the last 100 years, millions of Christians have died in mass persecutions in Ethiopia, Uganda, North Korea and throughout the Middle East.
Though the persecution and murder of Christians continue in many parts of the world today, it rarely makes the highlights on CNN. Christians are being killed at alarming rates in northern Africa, Syria and Pakistan. Women are being ravaged. Children are being crucified, for no other reason than that they worship Jesus as their God and Savior.
Most Americans are unaware or indifferent.
Persecution shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus told us it would be this way. “No servant is greater than his master,” he said. Just as he was persecuted and killed, Christians should expect and be willing to suffer the same.
Persecution of Christians shouldn’t surprise us. It should sadden us, though. It should lead us to pray for our brothers and sisters in the faith. It should embolden us to stand up and speak out. Men, women and children around the world – Christians like you and me – are suffering horrible atrocities rather than deny their Savior. They are trusting firmly in God’s promise of heaven as they stare down the barrel of a rifle or are held at knife point.
In our country, persecution is more subtle. Most American churches don’t need metal detectors at the door. We sit on cushy pews in comfortable churches. We are free to believe what we want as long as we don’t speak up too loudly or openly oppose sin.
If we do speak out too loudly, however, we are crucified in the media. We are criticized and mocked and called intolerant.
That’s hard to handle sometimes. We are tempted to back down and keep quiet. Maybe it would help to remember that right now there are Christians who are literally being crucified for their faith. How can we back down just because some people may not like us?
Until Christ comes again, Christians will be persecuted in our world. So pray for your fellow believers whose lives and livelihoods are threatened. Follow their example of courage.
Stand up and let your voice be heard.