Two-thirds of the 2.5 billion Christians in the world live in dangerous places for the practice of their faith.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24 v 9)
The Open Doors World Watch List for the 12 months of 2020 reported that 4,488 Churches were attacked; 12 congregations and 5 Christians every day faced the nightmare of kidnapping; every month 356 Christians go through the trauma of persecution; 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution right now.
It is horrendous for us to read of these statistics.
Look at the verse again however. What stands out to you? To the persecuted it is not what we in the West focus on. We only see the first part of the verse and not the last 3 words. For them it is definitely, ‘because of me.’
The cost of discipleship is being paid. But it is worth it. The persecuted don’t often talk of their persecution but they do talk about Jesus, ‘because of me’.
I have been many times to a certain nation in West Africa. Only a few years ago everywhere was safe to travel except the northern part. It was known as the red zone. Now the whole country is the red zone. My friend who is a Church planter sent this message last week:
“Our church hired a Christian roof patcher to fix again with some tar and the use of fire (gas), the holes in the corrugated iron roof of the village mosque today. Last time we did it was 4 years ago as a result then, 8 members of the chief family decided to follow Christ and we baptised them. Also the 3rd wife of the Imam decided to follow Jesus.
Today we prayed and fasted the whole day while the roof patcher was up on the roof of the mosque working and praying and then he fixed also the roof of the house of Imam. Please now pray with us for a greater harvest of souls this time. For all the people coming to pray at the mosque to reconcile to God through Jesus. For dreams and visions leading to sincere, authentic and determined decisions to follow Jesus.”
‘Because of me’ is worth the persecution. When Jesus is everything then the price is worth paying, even if it costs your life.