The last one hundred years have been the bloodiest in Christian history. There were reportedly more martyrs in the 20th Century than in all the previous nineteen centuries put together.
The Global Evangelism Movement reports that the average number of people martyred for their faith each year is around 160,000. Currently, there is an estimated 1,000,000 people in prison for religious reasons. The WEF (World Evangelical Fellowship) shares that more people have died in circumstances related to their faith in the 20th Century than in all the wars of that century combined.
Among them was a 15 year-old boy named Roy Pontoh. He was among the 150 members of the Bethel Church in Indonesia attending a church retreat on 20 January 1999 when a mob suddenly attacked. Roy was asked by his captors, “Are you a Christian?” The teenager with his hand holding his Bible replied, “Yes, I am. I am a soldier of Christ.”
One of his captors then cut Roy’s hand with a sword and asked again, “Are you a Christian?”
Once again, young Roy bravely replied, “I am a soldier of Christ.” Angrily his captor stabbed the teenager and killed him.
Yet, the Church of Christ has been called to witness for her Saviour and Lord in the midst of her suffering and martyrdom. Richard Wurmbrand talks about the Church being like a flower that has been trampled upon. As the flower is being crushed, it gives off fragrance that would fill the air. The Church’s response to the persecuting world is in the spirit of the Christ Who died in order to atone for sinful humankind and to give us His abundant life.
Today, we want to remember in prayer the suffering Church. We need to hear their voice and respond in prayer with them. We need to know that in many places, people are paying with their lives and property in order to stand up for the faith that we often take for granted in our comfortable Singapore where religious harmony has been long upheld. We need to share the good news of Christ in our land while there is still opportunity and while there is still time.