The Christian persecution watchdog group, Open Doors, estimates that 13 people around the world are killed each day for following Jesus.
Right now, in places like Nigeria, 2.7 million people of many different tribes and faiths, including many Christians, have been displaced by terror group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. In May, 20 Nigerian Christians were slain by ISIS extremists in a brutal knife attack. In 2014, around 100,000 Christians were estimated to have fled their homes on the Nineveh Plain during the ISIS insurgency. Those that stayed behind were forced into slavery, captured, forced to convert, or killed. To this day, many of the missing still have not been accounted for.
House churches in China continue to face intense persecution. Churches that are not affiliated with the Chinese government, and its three centralized and government-approved institutions that regulate all local Christian gatherings, face prosecution. The state-run churches are heavily influenced by China’s totalitarian government which has forced churches to do away with religious imagery to be replaced with images of President Xi Jinping. Wang Yi, pastor of a prominent, independent house church, is currently serving a nine year prison sentence for serving his Lord Jesus instead of the Communist Party.
Approximately 2.38 billion people around the world practice some form of Christianity. There are about 167 million Christians in the United States. This leaves us with the majority of Christians, 2.21 billion people, living elsewhere in the world, including many nations which are openly hostile to Christians, Christian converts, or those who practice religion in general as Open Doors notes regularly within their Watch List.
Persecution is horrific in the worst regions. In some countries, persecution from other regimes displaces families and destroys lifelong financial stability. In the most extreme countries, the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities creates widows, orphans, and deprives families of their loved ones. And yet, so many in places like Kurdistan – and in places like Madaba, Jordan – refugees and Internally Displaced Persons speak about their experiences being persecuted as something that has led them closer to their Lord Jesus Christ.
This was spoken beautifully by Haneen, a student at the Olive Tree Center who spoke during American FRRME’s 2021 Hope Restored Concert. She said:
“Joseph’s brothers wanted evil in him, but God brought out of their evil a good for the whole world. Finally, at the beginning of the suffering, I used to say, may God forgive them, but today I say thank you to ISIS the terrorists, because without their brutality and their control over our areas, many of nominal Christians would not have returned to their Creator and become true believers in him.
“The first of them is me, as without that catastrophe that befell us, it would have been very possible that I would not know Christ personally, would not be here to share with you my testimony and would not be Haneen who is standing in front of you today.
“In the end I will say, thank you ISIS. I love you as I love myself but will never cherish your actions nor your beliefs. As God loves us and distinguishes us from our sins, this is precisely how I feel for you.”
The Christians of the Nineveh Plain represent the Church’s 2000 year history of resilience in the face of hardship. Assyrians were among the first Christians, evangelized by the Apostle Thomas in the 1st Century AD. They have remained steadfast for two millennia, and continue to amaze many in their hope and resolve.
In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Donations to American FRRME go to programs that will aid in the survival of families facing violence in the Middle East.