Wherever Christians go, they experience opposition. But in certain countries, this persecution is particularly severe.
In some nations, government policy or practice prevents Christians from obtaining Bibles and meeting together, and anti-Christian laws lead to harassment or imprisonment of believers for their witness.
In other areas, Christians are routinely persecuted by family, neighbours or rebel groups despite the protection the government provides.
In countries such as Colombia and Nigeria, civil wars and other conflicts result in Christians facing opposition for their faith.
Majority-Hindu nations enforce anti-conversion laws, attempting to force new Christians to revert to Hinduism and prosecuting evangelists for supposedly performing forced conversions to Christianity. Political groups wanting to establish a purely Hindu nation, such as in India or Nepal, sometimes use violent tactics to try to eradicate Christians from the area.
Communist governments want control. But they can’t control the rapid growth of Christianity in countries like Vietnam and China. Government restrictions make Christian life and ministry very difficult. Pastors and leaders are arrested, interrogated and imprisoned in an attempt to stop the Church.
According to more radical streams of Islam, apostasy (rejecting your religion) is a crime that demands the death penalty. When a Muslim converts from Islam to Christianity, they bring shame on their family. They are abandoning their heritage, their very identity. Muslim background believers often face harsh opposition not only from the government, but also from their family and friends.
The Real Reason for Persecution
Persecution should not surprise us. Jesus tells us that persecution from the world is part of what it means to follow Him.
Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you… If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:18,20.
Paul writes to Timothy that “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12.
Just as Jesus went to the cross, He said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:34-35.
Christians in more hostile nations may live far from us, but as believers we know that we are one with them in Christ’s body. We cannot ignore their suffering. Voice of the Martyrs works to help, love and encourage persecuted Christians in partnership with the church in Australia.