Jesus said, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” — Matthew 5:11-12
Tom Doyle is a friend of ours. Dorothy and I first met Tom in Israel in 2009, when he and I spoke at the same church in Haifa pastored by our Arab Evangelical host, Philip Saa’d. It was then that we discovered we had something else in common besides being in Israel at the same time—Dorothy and I and Tom all had given our hearts to Jesus in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Tom attended his first prayer meeting at our church!
Tom’s ministry at the time was in the Middle East and he had just returned from Gaza where Rami Ayyad, the owner of the only Christian bookstore there had been robbed, tortured and killed by Muslim extremists two years before. His mantle had been taken up by the Gaza Baptist Church for a short season and Tom went there to encourage their work. His story was our first up close awareness of Christian persecution. We have kept in touch with Tom since then and have followed his ministry. Click here for Tom’s wonderful books and his daily prayer alerts on the persecuted church.
It is said that today 80% of the world’s population lives in a country under religious persecution—and 80% of those who are being persecuted are Christians. One only has to think of Afghanistan, Canada, China, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, and Turkey, to name just a few of the top 50. When Dorothy and I returned to the U.S. after that experience in Israel, we felt a call to speak out in behalf of the persecuted church to the American church, so we volunteered with Voice of the Martyrs. It was then that we got a rude awakening—the American church was not ready for that message—they were way too comfortable and most of their pastors didn’t appear to want to change that dynamic. We gained few listeners—and I was one of their peers!
Enter a worldwide so-called “pandemic” that allowed government authorities to close down or severely limit church activities—something that has never been done before in the history of our great nation—and it was done by fiat—while ignoring the First Amendment. This I believe was just the tip of the proverbial “iceberg.” So, for those who have the courage to speak up today, are we about to join our brothers and sisters around the world in severe persecution? One only has to read the words of Jesus, who told us in advance what to expect in the last days:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” — John 15:18-21