Today has been designated “The Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church” and to help us grasp the scale of the problem here are some figures supplied by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:

More than 43 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the crucifixion of Jesus.

 It’s been estimated that more Christians have been martyred in the 20th Century than in all the prior 1,900 years combined.

There have been more than 26 million documented cases of martyrdom in this century alone.

More than 200 million Christians in over 60 nations face persecution each day, 60% of these are children.

150,000 to 165,000 are martyred each year.

Accurate statistics are almost impossible to obtain as much of the persecution occurs in remote areas, and is often covered up by governments and local authorities, who like to give the impression there is no persecution within their jurisdiction.

Apart from those who lose their lives because of their faith, there are many more who face daily discrimination in employment, education, housing, health care etc.

The most effective thing we can do as Christians for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, is pray.

The early church suffered great persecution, but far from being defeated, the early church grew both in numbers and strength, and we must pray that our brothers and sisters will be given the strength to persevere, and that they may be similarly blessed.

Contributed by Ian Carlson