Back in January we reported on the latest study from human rights watchdog, Open Doors. We told you that more than 7,000 Christians had been martyred — murdered for their faith — in 2015, and that 2016 wasn’t shaping up to be any better.
It was difficult to understand the full scope of what was taking place in 2015 until Open Doors USA released its latest report.
The Open Doors world survey found that more than 7,100 Christians were martyred for their faith in 2015, a strikingly high number that is unprecedented in recent history. Sadly, persecution of Christians saw a major spike on every inhabited continent in 2015.
The terrible inhumanity that we Christians faced in 2015 hasn’t abated, and in fact, the conditions for our persecution continue to worsen. A recent report from Fox News explains why:
Beheadings, imprisonment and eviction from ancestral homelands made 2015 the worst year on record for persecution of Christians, with North Korea topping a list of 10 otherwise Muslim nations as the most dangerous places for followers of the Gospel, according to a new report.
Islamic extremism and authoritarian governments combined to make last year the worst in modern history for Christians around the world, according to Open Doors USA. The trend spiked upward in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with thousands of Christians killed or imprisoned, and even more chased from their homes.
“Islamic extremism continues to be the primary driving force behind the expansion of persecution,” said Open Doors President and CEO David Curry. “It is no longer just a Christian problem, but a global problem that must be addressed.”
The problems faced by our Christian brothers and sisters in the Muslim and communist worlds show no sign of improving, and the American government has been largely silent on the issue. Worldwide, Christians have not seen such concentrated persecution since the early days of the faith under Roman Imperial oppression. Our Christian neighbors need our help, and the Reverend Franklin Graham is now begging American Christians to do more.
2015 was just reported in the media as the worst year for Christian persecution. More than twice as many Christians were killed for their faith than in the previous year–making it the worst in history since these statistics have been tracked.
So I am announcing that we will be convening The World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, to be held in Moscow, Russia, October 28-30, 2016, by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church.
No church in modern history has suffered more than the church in Russia. In the years under Communist rule, virtually all of the priests, pastors, and church leaders in Russia were imprisoned or executed by the Communists, and their graves are on the outskirts of Moscow and throughout the country serving as a reminder. So Moscow will be a fitting and meaningful location for this much-needed summit.
I was in Russia this past October and met with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and evangelical leaders, and we discussed at length the persecution of the church worldwide. In an interview published Feb. 16 Patriarch Kirill said, “I strongly believe that we should work together in order to save our society from de-Christianization—because, facing increasing atheistic pressure, which has become quite aggressive in some countries, Christians are being squeezed out of public life.”
Britain’s Prince Charles has warned that Christianity might be entirely erased from the land of its birth in the Middle East within five years. We saw beheadings, torture, imprisonment, and more in many countries around the world.
The World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians will shed a global spotlight on this crisis. We will bring delegates from around the world and will be able to join hands with people of other churches and denominations of the Christian faith to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and to hear firsthand reports of the suffering that is taking place. Will you pray with us for this historic summit?
We can make a difference. We can help the innocent and the defenseless. We must give them a voice.
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