Today, one might think that the persecution of Christians is a thing of the past. In reality, however, more than 260 million Christians in the world are being persecuted. That’s 1 Christian out of every 8 who is being abused for his or her beliefs! Violence against the Church has increased dramatically, with nearly 9,500 attacks on places of worship and religious institutions in 2019, up from 1,850 the previous year, the Open Doors ministry has reported.
Let’s specify what we mean by persecution: It is a type of oppression that involves applying unjust, violent or cruel treatment to a person or group of persons on ideological, political, religious, sexual or even racial grounds. If you are reading this message and are a Christian living in one of the many places where it is difficult and even forbidden to practice your faith, we wish courage to you.
In recent years, Christians in many parts of West and Central Africa have been severely persecuted, as in Nigeria and various conflicts in the Central African Republic. We continue to pray for all these communities to hang on to Christ’s hope in the midst of difficulties, and we broadcast radio programs that transcend barriers of cultural, political and religious hostilities to fortify the listeners’ faith during moments of pain and loneliness.
Like anyone who is persecuted, Christians feel fear, uncertainty, pain and suffering, so it is important for them to rely on the promises contained in the Bible.
We need to know that wherever we are, whatever we do, whatever happens to us, we are not alone. This promise gives us strength to persevere, proclaiming the Word of God despite being in chains. Many must hear the gospel and come to know Jesus Christ if they are to go from being persecutors to becoming disciples of Jesus. As Jesus told his followers, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).
We owe the proclamation of the gospel to all men, regardless of race or nationality. It is a command we received from the Lord. Jesus is the solution to all our problems in this world; he is the solution to misunderstandings and intolerance. The more people are in darkness, the more their actions will turn toward evil.
We have the solution in our hearts and minds, but what are we going to do with it? Souls in search of hope languish day after day without the Word or salvation from God. This is a good time, and we must act now.
Today, TWR Women of Hope participants are engaged in witness by sharing their personal testimonies, distributing evangelistic tracts, inviting other women to listen to edifying Christian radio broadcasts, sharing the Word of God in prayer groups and praying for one another. Whole families come to the Lord, and every day the kingdom of God grows. As Paul told us, God desires for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
May God bless and strengthen all you do so that his Word is radiated to everyone you encounter.
A Word of Hope by Estelle Ametoglo, TWR Women of Hope regional coordinator for West and Central Africa