Religious freedom is violated in our world in three different ways: through discrimination, persecution, and martyrdom. Discrimination takes place even in countries claiming religious liberty, including Western nations. In many nations, there is increasing intolerance of Biblical values. According to Open Doors, 260 million Christians are experiencing severe persecution. Many believers have been martyred. Over 4,000 Christians were killed in 2018 because of their faith. Unfortunately, we do not see adequate media coverage of these crimes. Often the victims live in remote areas and are poor people with little influence. They should, however, not be unknown to us as fellow believers.

What can we do for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ? There are at least three different opportunities:

First, we can pray for them. The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) each November offers a powerful annual focus on this issue. The Pentecostal Commission on Religious Liberty (PCRL) provides a package of information to the churches within both the World Assemblies of God Fellowship and the Pentecostal World Fellowship, representing about 100 million believers. The information package could be shared with other networks on IDOP and could have a greater reach throughout the year.

Second, we can provide advocacy. Writing letters or emails to the embassies of nations violating the rights of churches and believers could have a potentially powerful impact. PCRL is willing to develop actions by meeting with key authorities in particular countries and working together with other like-minded organizations to give a voice to persecuted and discriminated people.

Third, we can provide financial support. Those who have lost homes and possessions need material assistance. We need to grow the partnership between Pentecostal fellowships in member nations to provide an allied humanitarian response - as called for by the apostle Paul. Our humanitarian assistance organizations are in key roles as well.

We need to remind ourselves and fellow believers about the words from the writer of the letter to Hebrews: “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3

Dr. Arto Hämäläinen