Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“While American churches squabble over doctrinal debates and celebrity pastor faux pas, in many places in Africa and the Middle East, thousands of Christians have found themselves in the middle of conflicts where they are easy targets in attacks that aren’t merely idealogical—they are literally a matter of life or death.” Relevant Magazine, Jesse Carey, March 10, 2014
According to the May/June 2014 issue of Relevant Magazine, just in the Syrian conflict alone:
The Syrian People are still victims of ongoing violence, mass displacement, collapse of infrastructure and health care system
126,000+ killed in the conflict
40 percent of Syria’s pre-war population has been displaced
2 Million are refugees in neighboring countries
Syrian Children remain victims of abductions, sexual violence, combat recruitment, torture, and use as human shields
1 Million+ children are refugees
40 percent of Syrian children are not currently attending school
11,000 children have been killed in the conflict. Some were specifically targeted or used as human shields
Christian Communities are victims of targeted attacks, forced conversions, the destruction of churches
450,000+ Christians fled home
10 percent of the Syrian population are Christians
Over 60 Christian churches and monasteries have been destroyed
If we are to follow Jesus, we are to make ourselves fully aware of what he told us. We are to read his words and obey. We can’t even rely on one Bible version to do that. If we can’t rely on one Bible version, we certainly can’t rely on one person to interpret his words for us.
Start off by reading three chapters in Matthew – chapters five, six and seven. These contain the entire Sermon on the Mount. Read them in your own Bible, then go to www.biblegateway.com and read them in a couple of different versions that reliably translate from the original Hebrew and Greek. The New American Standard Bible (NASB), New English Translation (NET) or the English Standard Version (ESV) do an excellent job of that.
If you want a version that closely paraphrases into an easier read, choose the New Living Translation (NLT) or the Easy-to-Read (ERV) version. Enter passages and choose up to five versions to read side-by-side to compare. Be sure you pick a good translation version along with a paraphrase version so you can see the meat of the verse, not simply the paraphrasing.
Read the commentary section of your Bible and the notes in the margins to understand and review reference Scripture. If your Bible doesn’t have commentary notes or reference Scripture, please do yourself a favor: get one!
As a child, you learned how to use a dictionary, a thesaurus, an atlas. You may have even learned to use other reference books as a professional. The Bible is your reference book for life. If you don’t know how to use it, for Christ’s sake (I am not using this pejoratively), start now! I don’t know another way to say it.
What does this have to do with persecution?
As you read the Bible, you will learn that it is the story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. You will see Jesus, God’s will and our mission in golden threads connected throughout Scripture. Below is one of those golden threads to follow.
He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free,and remove the chains that bind people.Share your food with the hungry,and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them,and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Isaiah 1:17, 58:6-7
Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. Zechariah 7:10
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food.-, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcome me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
“And the righteous will answer him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:31-40
Compassion International www.compassion.com
Destiny Rescue http://www.destinyrescue.org/us/
International Justice Mission http://www.ijm.org/
Liberty in North Korea http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/
Living Water International http://www.water.cc/
Open Doors USA https://www.opendoorsusa.org/
Red Window Project www.redwindow.org
UNICEF End Trafficking http://www.unicefusa.org/mission/protect/trafficking/end
Voice of the Martyrs https://www.persecution.com/
World Food Programme, http://www.wfp.org/
World Vision www.worldvision.org