“Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]”.
Matthew 5:10 Amplified Bible
This Sunday we in the UK are able to worship God freely in our churches. Thank God for this freedom. If a Christian is discovered in North Korea, they will be arrested and imprisoned in one of the labour camps. In the camps, Christians are worked liked slaves and often tortured; most are never able to escape.
North Korea is top of Open Doors 2019 World Watch list and they estimate that there are between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians in the population. It’s difficult to get an exact figure, as Christians must keep their faith completely secret.
Of those, they estimate that between 50,000 and 70,000 people are imprisoned in labour camps – simply for choosing to follow Jesus. And yet, despite the risks, the church in North Korea is slowly but steadily growing.
“Rejoice and be glad for your reward is in heaven” I can only imagine the level of comfort these words from Jesus would mean to them.
This week Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered a review into the plight of persecuted Christians and how much help they get from the UK. The review aims to help 215 million Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.
"So often, the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority," said Jeremy Hunt. He added that the UK "must do more".
Now we can’t possibly compare, but what does persecution or being spoken badly of on Jesus’ account mean to us here in the UK?
• Is it not getting involved in office gossip and being mocked as the ‘holier than thou’ Christian in the office?
• Is it being pressured to flex the truth and overlook wrongdoing by family or friends?
• Is it being ostracised and labelled for maintaining that sex is reserved for marriage between a man and woman?
In an increasingly secularised society are we willing to endure being isolated and labelled as ‘out of touch’ and having views from the Dark Ages because we refuse to give way to the popular opinions we encounter? Are we committed to living righteous lives that are pleasing to God, regardless of the consequences?
When you pray please remember our brother and sisters across the world who are suffering for their faith in Jesus. May they know the peace, help and strength of God.