Most of us have head the stories about how the early followers of Jesus were persecuted. Tradition holds that all sorts of nasty things were done to believers throughout the first few hundred years after Jesus walked the earth.
The Bible even records how the Apostle Paul, before he changed his name from Saul and converted to follow Jesus, went around arresting believers in an attempt to destroy the church.
But did you know that followers of Jesus are still being systematically persecuted in all kinds of different places throughout the globe today?
Let me take you on a little tour around the world to give you a taste of what can happen to you today in some places simply because of a choice to follow Jesus. The tour is compliments PersecutionBlog, which is the blog of The Voice of the Martyrs.
Just last week a house church was brutally attacked in Vietnam. Imagine getting together for a work day to do some much needed repairs on your church and having a mob show up and attack you. The police stood by for a while before arresting 11 of the believers and hauling them off for a few more hours of beatings and interrogations. Oh, yes. Then the mob partially tore down the house that the believers were trying to repair in the first place.
Last month a mob stormed a church in India, beating believers and breaking furniture. Then they hauled off the pastor to the police station where he was immediately arrested.
Then thereâ€™s Somalia where believers are beaten and killed by people who are taught that killing a follower of Jesus is a sure ticket into heaven. Believers canâ€™t even register in refugee camps because of their religion. Or you could be a western relief worker and get murdered in front of your family by a mob that then burns your house and forces themselves on your wife after youâ€™re dead.
Be glad you are not in a Pakistani prison where you might get tortured simply for holding a Bible study with your fellow prisoners and then locked in solitary confinement.
Or maybe you buy into the Myth of Chinese Religious Freedom. Apparently it doesnâ€™t matter if you register your church with the government or not. The Chinese Public Security Bureau surrounded and raided a church that was registered with the government, and arrested several of the leaders on the grounds that theirs was an â€œillegal evil cultâ€ meeting.
Have there been horrible things done by people claiming to operate in the name of Jesus Christ? Unfortunately the answer is yes, and way too many.
But I thought you should know that in many parts of the world today the cost of following Jesus is much more than simply getting dressed up for an hour a week while you try to stay awake during some preaching.
Think about that.
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