Since day one, those who have chosen to follow Jesus have suffered as a result of their choice. There are good reasons to believe that Jesus was a pacifist, so it’s sometimes hard to believe that his Church has faced nearly two thousand years of beatings, abuse, ridicule and social shame.
But then, with a history like ours, maybe that is something we shouldn’t be so surprised about. Just think about it. The basis of Christianity is the cross; the death and resurrection of Jesus. Even if we ignore Jesus’ warnings about the cost of following him, we can’t ignore that his death indicates he was a pretty controversial character.
Killed by those who saw him as a challenge to their power base and theological understanding, Jesus’ death was brutal. And since then, there’s been a relentless, unstoppable flow of abuse against those who’ve called themselves Christians.
AD 30-33: Jesus’ crucifixion
AD 33: Stephen stoned to death (Acts 7)
AD 67-68: Paul and Peter martyred under the reign of Roman Emperor Nero
AD 150: The Persecution in Lyon indicates a wider trend with mob violence, assaults, robberies and stonings directed at Christians.
AD 173 onwards: Emporer Maximinus Thrax targets Christian leaders across the empire
AD 284 onwards:: Emporer Diocletian starts the ‘Great Persecution’ where up to 20,000 Christians are thought to have been killed.
AD 341: Zoroastrian Shapur II orders the massacre of all Christians in the Persian Sassanid Empire, condemining 1,150 Assyrian Christians to death.
AD: 614: Jewish/Persian wars saw up to 60,000 Christians killed in Jerusalem and across the empire as Christians became caught between various sides.
Fast forward 1500 years and the last century hasn’t been any more peaceful. Persecution of Christians has been on the rise, so much so that it sparked Brother Andrew to respond to God’s call and begin the work of Open Doors.
Thousands of Christians are thought to be killed every year because of their belief in Jesus. Over 10% of the world’s Christians live in places where they aren’t able to fully practice their faith without fear of reprisals. It’s easy to see why Christians are considered the most persecuted group on earth.
Just check out the top ten countries on the 2015 World Watch List for details on how to pray specifically for Christians facing persecution today.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.