Image: Two priests putting a cross upright with help of some soldiers on the roof of Tahira church in Qaraqosh (Syriac Catholic). It is the largest church in the city.
Myths can be dangerous. False narratives can slip into our minds through the news, casual conversations or even social media. The problem is—if we believe these myths, they have the potential to change the way we think, behave and engage the world.
I’ve fallen for many of the myths you’re about to read relating to the persecuted church. In some ways, this post is more of a confessional. But I believe many of these are widespread, and we need to call them out to embrace the full picture of persecution. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are counting on our prayers and support—and we can’t afford to follow false narratives.
- God Uses Persecution for Punishment.
Let’s be honest; this is an elitist view. It’s too easy to look down on cultures that are less developed and misunderstand their lack of development for lack of spiritual growth or obedience. It’s simply not true. More technology, development or economic advancement doesn’t equal stronger spirituality. And to add, God uses persecution as part of His sovereign plan to spread the gospel and strengthen believers. Persecution was prevalent in the early church and the apostles, especially with Paul. We will not always understand God’s ways. Throughout history, God has used persecution to purify and spread His church.
- Persecution Always Hurts the Church.
It does hurt the church in the sense of pain, suffering and loss, but God has a way of leveraging all of these things to spread the gospel—just like He did in Acts—to strengthen the church. It’s hard to wrap our minds around it, at least it is for me, but God uses persecution for the advancement of His Kingdom. That doesn’t mean we should embrace it or pray for it, but when it happens, God always uses it for His purposes and sovereign will.
- Global Persecution Of Christians Doesn’t Affect The Church In The U.S.
False. I’m guilty of this one—and it’s dangerous to think this way. We are one Body. When one part suffers, we all suffer. That’s why it’s so important to stay in the know about what’s happening globally in the church. When a bomb goes off in Egypt, a bomb goes off in the church everywhere. When a believer in India is kicked out of their village for their faith, we’re all kicked out of our village for our faith. When a believer is imprisoned in North Korea, we’re all imprisoned. Knowing this. Feeling this. Believing this… is so critical. That’s why we listen, learn, pray, fast, grieve and worship together. We are one Body.
- Christian Persecution Is Just Cultural.
There are many cultural complexities, this is true. From Somalia to Syria, cultural differences are deeply embedded, and they contribute to persecution—whether it’s governmental, nationalistic or faith-related. However, persecution goes much deeper. At the very root of it all—there’s a spiritual issue and battle. What we’re fighting against is not physical. As Paul states in Ephesians, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This element of persecution shouldn’t be overlooked.
- There’s Not Much We Can Do…
This is, perhaps, one of the most dangerous myths out there. It’s easy to blow off Christian persecution as something distant, unchangeable and too complex to change. However, there are so many things we can do—every day—to enter the battle and lift up our brothers and sisters who are suffering around the world for their faith. Prayer is our greatest weapon. It goes beyond strongholds, and into places we could never venture. And if you believe the book of Acts, prayer can break chains, release prisoners, bring aid and relief to suffering saints like no other resource. We can also volunteer to be an advocate and create awareness, write letters, sign petitions and lead prayer groups. And, of course, we can also give—to provide urgent relief and aid, Bibles, Christian literature, safe houses, counseling—and even resources to rebuild homes and churches.
I encourage you to take action. Ask God for His leading. And take one small step today to lift up persecuted believers all over the world.
(by Brian Orme, Open Doors USA)