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Today is Good Friday. It is a day for Christians which marks reflection and mourning but most of all hope. For Christians in restricted nations, Easter is a time which carries an increased risk of persecution.

On Easter Sunday 2016, in an attack targeting Christians, at least 75 people were killed and over 340 injured in a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan.  Holy Week 2017 began with more attacks on innocent Christians. In Tanta Egypt, a man wearing concealed explosives passed through a security checkpoint outside St George’s Church, and detonated himself. At least 28 people were killed, and 77 were injured. At the Egyptian port city of Alexandria three hours later, another bomber tried to enter St Mark’s Church. When the man was stopped by an officer, he also detonated his explosives. This time 17 people were killed and 48 left wounded.

Jesus offers a living hope to our persecuted brothers and sisters due to His victory over death. Because of His resurrection, death is nothing to be feared. It is this hope that inspires so many Christians to endure persecution, rather than renounce their faith in Christ.

“We have peace in our hearts so that whether we are poor or persecuted, we have this peace. It is the hope of heaven that keeps us going in the midst of persecution, so whether we are persecuted, beaten or not, it is the hope that we will be in heaven that keeps us moving forward.”  – A believer in Burma

In Australia we often take our freedom to worship for granted. As you meet today to remember our Saviour’s death and again to celebrate His resurrection on Sunday, please say a prayer for our brothers and sisters in restricted nations who are doing the same, at great risk.