Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.
Last Sunday was the commemoration of the martyrdom of John the Baptist. His commemoration on the 29th of August has been a traditional time to remember martyrs past and present, as well as, reminding Christians that we must be ready to put our life on the line.
In past articles I have written of Christian martyrs of the first three centuries. I turn now to the last century and today.
During the last century with various totalitarian states' martyrdom of Christians, persecution has been as high as it has ever been. Communist Russia, China, North Korea, much of the Muslim world and even parts of India have persecuted and martyred Christians. Adolf Hitler was no friend of the Christian church, supplanting pastors with those who would stay loyal to him and his tyrannical ideas. There as in other places the church had to go "underground." Dietrick Bonhoeffer and others organized secret worship services, catechetical, Bible and seminary classes to keep the faith alive.
My son, a U.S. Marine, was stationed in the country of Georgia and told me about visiting churches where the artwork of saints was defaced when the Soviet government controlled that nation.
Today Russia is no longer communist, Putin is even a baptized member of the Russian Orthodox Church, and this has been recognized by organizations like "The Voices of the Martyrs." If you visit https://www.persecution.com you will note that Russia has been removed from their list of nations that persecute Christians.
Muslim nations have been at odds with Christianity for centuries, but ISIS and the African Muslim terrorist organizations like Boko Haram and Militant Fulani Muslims have blood on their hands.
In Syria and Iraq, before ISIS would enter a town their spies would mark the Christian homes with the symbol for an Arabic "N" which stood for "Nazarene." And when they then took over that town they would round up families in those homes, beheading the men and taking the women as their wives.
On May 21 of this year: "Militant Fulani Muslims shot a pastor and his 3-year-old son in Niger State, Nigeria. Leviticus Makpa, 39, served as a pastor and church planter at a Christian school that he established in Kamberi village." https://www.persecution.com/stories/tag/nigeria/.
In China and North Korea, we do not know how many Christians have died in labor camps. In North Korea you can be arrested and imprisoned for giving someone a Bible.
With the present condition in Afghanistan, it is expected by many that the Taliban will seek out Christians for execution.
I don't believe America is on the brink of rounding up Christians and executing them, which is good as I don't know how many of those calling themselves Christians would remain faithful under persecution.
Few American Christians including myself have yet to shed blood for Christ. Temptations, a busy schedule, anti-religious or organized religious feelings, scientism and other challenges makes it hard to know who would withstand brutal persecution.
Pray for the persecuted and the church.
• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.