Today is "Thanksgiving" for our American friends and I have been reminded twice this morning that we should be very thankful for the freedoms we enjoy as Christians in Canada and the United States. I say that because going through my email I came across a copy of Charles Colson's Breakpoint (from November 7th) where he reports on the troubles of Christians in Iraq with the removal of Saddam's government. While the former dictator was in power the Christian population peacefully coexisted alongside the Muslim majority but now they face threats from Sunni, Shia, and Kurds alike. Although these groups do not like each other, they dislike Christians even more (to put it mildly) and according to Lawrence Kaplan writing in the New Republic they have "made a sport of brutalizing their Christian neighbors".
After reading Breakpoint I took a quick look at the VOM (Voice of the Martyrs) Persecution and Prayer Alert that is regularly sent to my inbox. In this edition it tells of 1) Attacks on Christians in Ethiopia, 2) The murder of a prominent church worker in India by Muslim militants, 3) Dubious charges that have been brought against a Cuban pastor for allegedly aiding emigrants to leave the country, 4) Indian families who are driven from their homes when they convert to Christianity, and 5) continuing harassment of Christians in Sri Lanka.
Persecution is part of following Christ. We all face it in some form or other. But some of our Christian brothers and sisters face the overt threat of persecution everyday of their lives. This Thanksgiving we need to remember to pray for them and to ask God to bless their testimony for his honor and glory.
And it would also do us good to ponder the 5th seal in the book of Revelation. "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?' Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants and brothers and sisters were killed just as they had been" (Revelation 6:9-11).