According to Open Doors 2023, World Watch List, more than 360 million Christians around the world suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. 5,621 Christians (approximately 15 per day) were killed last year for their faith. 89% of those killed were in Nigeria as Islamic jihadi groups, such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), attempt to eliminate the presence of Christianity in the nation.
Since Open Doors began their World Watch List thirty years ago, the number of countries where Christians suffer persecution has almost doubled. Although we tend to think of Christian persecution as overt acts of violence or discrimination against Christians, persecution can include hostile words and actions, and increasingly Christians, even in Western nations, are experiencing persecution.
1 Peter 3:8-22 speaks of Christian persecution and instructs believers on how to respond. “…Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (I Peter 3:14-15).
Peter directed believers to have a deep personal relationship with Christ and to be able to respectfully explain their faith clearly to others. Being “ready to give an answer” is a natural response to being in a close, loving relationship with God. We naturally defend those that we love because we know them intimately. In order to be prepared, we need to first study and meditate on God’s Word and develop a strong prayer life.
Our relationship with God, however, goes much deeper than an emotional response. Our faith is based on truth – and the crux of that truth is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s these core truths where Christianity and Islam differ, and as we go through the next few weeks, we will be looking at those truths so that you may be able to better direct your prayers and be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have.
Why pray for Christians during Ramadan? Because the lifestyle of Christians is one of the top reasons Muslims come to know Christ. Other reasons include the spiritual truth that is contained in the Bible and Biblical teachings about the love of God. Pray for Christians to draw closer to God and develop a deep personal relationship with Him so that their lives reflect Christ in all that they do. Pray that Muslims will see the difference in the lives of Christians and be drawn to the Truth.
Finally, rejoice that God is answering prayer. Open Doors reports that persecution lessened in nations like Qatar (falling 16 places in the World Watch List) and Egypt (falling 15 places) in 2022. Other smaller drops in persecution occurred in Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, and Jordan.
- A primary reason there is the persecution of Christians by Muslims is (1) they have never met a faithful Christian to influence their lives, and (2) they are taught to “kill the infidel.” Ask our Lord to open their eyes to hatred and to see that true followers of Christ want to be their friend.
- More Muslims have come to Christ in the last 15 years than combined in the previous 1400 years of Islam. Pray they will have a longing for spiritual things and have dreams and visions of the Lord Jesus, bringing them to salvation.