Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.
Easter in America has, at times, created a false illusion about the world beyond our borders. It is a safe and secure child's world of Easter Bunnies, fuzzy yellow ducklings and baskets full of chocolate and other delights. In churches across our nation there is joy for "Christ is risen." Family gatherings follow.
For a moment all seems right in the world, but the world is not all right. This Easter morning, we woke to the news of three churches and a number of hotels being bombed with 290 dead. The reality of many Christians are fears of death and persecution even on Easter.
The first Easter had no Easter Bunny, collections of chocolate or even a joyous community worship service. It was scared disciples wondering if they were next to be killed or imprisoned. Christians in countries that have a history of persecution are much more in tune with the fearful disciples of the first Easter.
To be a Christian and hold to the faith in many countries is to bear the cross and a struggle to survive against threats of both governmental and nongovernmental powers. To stand up and confess Christ is no child's play but it is putting your life and the well-being of your family on the line.
The article, "Persecution of Christians is set to Rise in 2019" (Christianity Today, Jan 2) predicts there will be a rise in the persecution of Christians worldwide. The article reminds us that "In Nigeria, Fulani militants are set to continue devastating attacks against Christians in the north and center of the country. In the first six months of 2018 alone, they killed up to 6,000 people and drove 50,000 from their homes."
A study, "Christian Martyrdom as a Pervasive Phenomenon" by Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo (Society, December 2014), reports that between 2000 to 2010, one million Christians were martyred in the world, an average of 100,000 Christians a year.
ISIS, which still exists in the world, is clearly a notorious group that has publicly executed Christians, but it is only one of many groups that have done so. The fact that many of these groups go after other peoples in addition to Christians does not lessen the suffering of the baptized nor the future threats to the Church globally.
North Korea is still the number one country of Christian persecution.
1. Pray that our Lord with give strength to Christians to stay strong in their faith.
2. Pray that our Lord will safe guard not only Christians but all who are persecuted.
3. Learn more about modern-day persecution.
4. Through your church support those who are in countries where persecution is occurring.
5. Be an example to your family and others by respecting and protecting all peoples. Matthew 5:44: "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.