Sunday, November 11, 2012

What day is this anyway?

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Call it naivete, but it's hard for me to imagine that there are churches and believers being persecuted in this day and age.  After all, it's 2012.  We are an enlightened people, right?  And yet, Open Doors has 50 Countries on their World Watch list. (the watch list is a list of the top countries where persecution of Christians is most severe.)

Today's featured country is Belarus.  According to Open Doors, Often considered the last surviving dictatorship in Europe, the government of Belarus allows almost no political opposition. The Orthodox Church is the only officially recognized denomination. Unregistered religious activity can result in imprisonment or heavy fines. Unregistered churches are monitored by the secret police and violent raids occur frequently. Because the numbers of evangelical and Pentecostal Christians is growing, persecution is intensifying. Two leaders of the Belarusian Christian Democratic party were sentenced to labor camp in 2011, but were later freed. Another was imprisoned and subjected to psychological torture. 

Interesting enough, the main thing I remember about Belarus is their participation in the Olympics.  They seemed like happy, proud, normal people. No different than me (other than the incredible amount of athletic ability.) I would never guess that they are 42nd in severe persecution of Christians.

In 2011, Open Doors delivered more than 3.1 million Bibles, study Bibles, children’s Bibles, training materials and other Christian materials to persecuted believers in 50 countries. Open Doors trained 263,542 people from theological courses to shorter seminars. Also in 2011, Open Doors served 172,137 through community development projects.

This is not a post promoting Open Doors.  You'll find most of the same information at Voice of the Martyrs.  The point is awareness.  No matter how "difficult" it is to be a Christian in the United States, it in no way compares to what other believers experience at the hands of friends, families and their government.  So, today not only am I thankful that I live in a country where I can worship and follow the Way, I am thankful that there are organizations who are willing to serve and assist those who are willing to give their lives for my beautiful God.  

James 1:12

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