“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1: 29)
So many would like to believe that verses like this one only apply to the church 2,000 years ago. Not so!
Our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer violent physical and spiritual abuse today, and I believe it is sinful to ignore their plight.
This month militant Ethiopiean Muslim groups destroyed 50 churches in a vicious wave of violence. The latest anti-Christian attacks in Ethiopia, targeted Protestant churches in an area of Asendabo approximately 250 kilometres southwest of Addis Ababa.
According to Asia News, Muslims started their jihad after accusing Christians of desecrating the Koran. As they torched the churches the frenzied crowd shouted ‘Allahu Akbar” (God is great)
The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zanawi blamed a little-known Muslim group of preaching religious intolerance. In the aftermath more that 3,000 Christians were displaced from their homes. The responsible initiators have been identified as Kwarej, a radical Islamic group.
According to data published by the Ethiopian government, 43.5 percent of the population are members of the Orthodox (Coptic) Church. Another 18.5 percent are members of other Protestant churches, making Christians the majority group in the land.
The Muslim community totals 33.9 percent but radical groups like Kwarej plan to create a Muslim state in Ethiopia despite the statistics.
A spokesman said the attacks were set off by Muslims, who framed Christians for desecrating the Koran.
The abusive raids took place in an area where Muslims made up the population majority and police were afraid to intervene.
The Prime Minister said, “We knew they were peddling this ideology of intolerance, but it was not possible for us to stop them administratively because they are within their rights,” he said. “If we can find some association between what they are doing by way of preaching and what happened by way of violence, then of course we can take them to court.”
Similar attacks to these took place at the same time in Soul, Egypt. Are we witnessing a strategy that might well be repeated around the world?
As we reflect on what might be, we should be praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering serious bloody persecution simply because they are Christians.
There are some specific issues for our prayers.
1) We should be praying for the Islamists around the world today who desperately need a touch from the Lord. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-31)
2) Pray our brethren will be comforted in their trials. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
The Apostle Paul knew something about suffering and shining all at the same time. He wrote these amazing words. “For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
3) Pray the persecuted brethren will be energized by the glory to come.
Finally, think about this. Just for a moment, put yourself in the place of the Christians in Ethiopia. Consider if that was your situation and your loved ones were at risk and your home and your church were no longer a place of safe shelter, how would you want others to pray?
Then do it.