One in ten Christians around the world live with persecution for their faith. Such persecution takes many forms. For some this means they live with daily fear of violence, kidnap, rape or even death. To talk with a friend about Jesus can land you in jail in many Muslim contexts. In other places being a Christian means you must live in utter poverty, trapped by a system that limits your opportunities to break free. In many contexts being a Christian means you carry a distinct social stigma. This affects the jobs you can get and how your children will be treated in school. Under shari’a (Islamic law) the court will reject your testimony as worthless when it is compared to that of a Muslim, regardless of the credibility of that particular Muslim.
In the global church today it is estimated that 200 million people live in areas where they face discrimination, persecution or oppression because of their faith. The two greatest threats to the world-wide family of believers come from communism and the practice of shari’a law. There is still persecution from some forms of militant Hinduism, in parts of India. And there is some from Buddhist extremists in places like Thailand. But the majority of opposition to Christian believers comes in countries where communism is still practiced as social/economic law and under Islamic law.
In all our public discussion of the political/military situation in Iraq I am quite amazed at how few Christians actually understand the implications of American policy in that country. Before we entered Iraq Christians were actually in a far better place than they are today. Iraq offers to us a context of hope but one filled with real fear at the present time. While Saddam generally left believers alone the present influence of Islam has altered that rather significantly and most of us simply do not understand.
There are two sources I use to keep up with persecution on a regular basis. One is the American mission of Voice of the Martyrs. The other is a mission begun in 1993 called Barnabas Fund. There are many others but these two are reliable and helpful for my prayerful (and monetary) response to the persecution of my fellow Christians. I urge you to become aware of this problem and to engage it as a part of your Christian mission.