Studying the Church at Smyrna, while working through a series from the 7 Churches in the Book of Revelation, reminded me that persecution of Christians is not just something that took place on the pages of ancient history. Persecution of Christians is an ever-present tragic reality. We are told by historians and scholars that more Christians were persecuted for their faith duing the 20th Century than during all history up to that time – COMBINED!
As startling as that statistic may be, it is important for us to be aware.
As Christians we are instructed to “bear the burdens” of other believers (Galatians 6.2), and to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”. (Romans 12.15) We can do none of those things if we are not aware of what others are experiencing.
We are also strangely strengthened by the examples of those who have endured suffering and persecution for the sake of Jesus. Their testimonies ought to be an important part of our devotional diet.
There are a number of good resources that will share the stories of those who have endured hardship, indignation, and even martyrdom, for the Cause of Christ. The classic is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Another I recommend is a more contemporary book – one I was at first skeptical about simply because it is written by the members of CCM’s DC Talk. (I didn’t know anything about them. I just assumed: “How deep can it be?” But was I ever wrong…)
Jesus Freaks by DC Talk is a wonderful collection of testimonies of those who have glorified God by faithful endurance throughout the generations. Each account is brief and profound. Simply by reading a page or two daily, or periodic intervals, will enrich the reader with chronicles of Chrisitans whose lives have been poured out for God’s Glory.