I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.
'The Persecuted Church' was Smyrna.
Looking at persecuted Christians is hard. Most of us sit on well-oiled pews in well-heeled churches and do not know persecution personally. But that's only because we choose not to know. Desperate brothers and sisters in Christ are waiting and hoping for our help.
They are huddled in house churches, in isolation, and in fear for their children. The 'World Watch List' tracks the persecution of Christians. The top five offending nations are North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia (compiled by Open Doors).
Even in the U.S., Christians suffer. They suffer in hostile workplaces, bullying schools, and broken homes. They suffer in every place that Satan rules. As a predator, he is unrelenting in attacks against weak, young, or stranded Christians.
Even in the U.S., churches suffer. Significantly, 68 NYC churches face eviction in 2012, following a court-ordered ban preventing poor congregations from renting school buildings for worship services. NYC Councilman Fernando Cabrera, an advocate for the potentially homeless churches said, 'I've been very disappointed with those who call themselves fathers in the city, who have mega churches and have not stepped up.'
Nevertheless and all the more, those who are persecuted for bearing the Name of Jesus Christ are blessed. God Himself will restore and reward this church in abundance. It's only a matter of time.
'Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you' (Matthew 5:11-12).
If Christians ignore the persecution of fellow Christians, we sin. Even worse, we bear His Name falsely. Therefore, we must give to those who are giving their lives for Christ. We must look beyond our church doors to lift up poor, weak, isolated, or bullied believers. We are the Hands of Christ.
To Be Continued...
P.S. Following are links to two ministries that serve persecuted Christians worldwide, as well as a link to the NYC church eviction threat.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Which Church Are You? series.