News reports have come to us of major religiously-fueled attacks over the past seven days during what CNN has called Religion's Week From Hell. Victims included Coptic Christians in Egypt who were beheaded, a security guard who was killed while overseeing a bar mitzvah in Denmark, worshipers at a Shia mosque in Pakistan, and scores more.
These are the reports that have reached us. They don't speak of the family members who are living in hiding because of their faith, or the prisoners forced into hard labor because of their religious convictions. In other words, these stories are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to religious persecution around the world.
Some Christians will read these reports, shrug, and declare, "So what? The Bible says persecution will come. Why try to stop it?"
These believers raise an interesting point. The Bible does promise persecution to those who confess Christ.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Timothy 3:12
We can't just ignore these verses. Persecution will come. But that doesn't mean we should stand by apathetically while others suffer.
The Bible says sin will not be defeated until Christ returns. Does that mean we should stop resisting temptation? The Bible says everybody will one day die. Does that mean we withhold life-saving medical treatment because "the Bible said it would happen"?
Of course not.
So why do we look at injustice and persecution, shrug our shoulders, and declare, "The Bible said it would happen," as if we are powerless to confront such evil?
As Christians, we are not powerless. We have the Holy Spirit inside us, and we have the gift of prayer ~ a weapon of mass destruction as far as the forces of evil are concerned.
I don't want to be a fatalistic believer. Instead, I want to be the kind of Christian who changes history by my prayers. I want to be the kind of Christian who covers the world in intercession until stories of religious violence grow few and far between ... or cease altogether.
I want to be the kind of Christian who protects others by my prayers, creating shields of intercession so my brothers and sisters in the faith will not falter in times of trouble.
I want to be the kind of Christian who brings healing to those who have lost family members or friends. I want my prayers to cover them in comfort and wrap them in the healing salve of the Holy Spirit until their hearts are glad and their souls rejoice.
That's the kind of Christian I want to be.
Will you join me?
Alana Terry is an award-winning author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, The Beloved Daughter, recounts the story of a North Korean sent to prison camp for her father's faith. It won awards from Women of Faith, The Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers' Favorite, and more.
Alana also writes the Thirty Days of Prayer series, including Thirty Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.