“Voice of the Martyrs estimates that more than 150,000 people die for Christ each year, an average of more than four hundred per day.” (Heaven, Randy Alcorn, ©2004, p. 67)
You and I cannot imagine the pain and suffering our brothers and sisters in Christ endure in other parts of the world. We enjoy, today, in the United States, freedom to live as we please, worship as we choose, follow Jesus with reckless abandon. In India and Nepal and Bangladesh and many other lands, these luxuries are not afforded believers. Their lives and livelihoods are threatened regularly. They risk violence whenever they gather for worship. Yet despite the peril they face these Jesus-lovers are filled with joy and peace and thankfulness to God.
Now let me remind you of the truth: the day of suffering will come to America. I’ve said that numerous times over the years and I believe it firmly. It would not take much for the hateful attitudes that many in our nation have toward Jesus’ followers to turn to physical violence and outward discrimination. The time when brothers and sisters in Christ that we know from towns we’re familiar with join the throngs of killed-for-their-faith saints beneath the altar in Heaven may be closer than we’d like to think. (Revelation 6:9) Until that day, let us live lives filled with joy and peace and thankfulness to God.
This Memorial Day, as we honor the men and women who have served our country in combat, let us also remember our fellow citizens (of Heaven) who daily endure shame and loss of reputation and brutality for the sake of our Lord. Pray for our persecuted friends as God brings them to mind this month. Join them in their cries of “how long?” (Revelation 6:10) And let us soberly remember that the price they pay today is the price we may be paying tomorrow.
God’s grace be with them and with us. In Christ we are one.