Spreading the Gospel: Even When Persecuted

By   •   September 2, 2013


Every year, according to some estimates, as many as 100,000 Christians are martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.

Especially across North Africa and the Middle East, becoming a follower of the Lord is fraught with danger. In countries where Islamic rule is ascendant, Christians are systematically being threatened, persecuted and even killed.

Of course, Christians have long been subject to intense persecution. The prophets of the Lord in the Old Testament were rarely met with a warm reception. From the birth of the church at Pentecost, and down through the millennia, those who call on Jesus as Savior and Lord have suffered loss of property, income and life for the sake of the Kingdom.

Stephen, of course, was the first martyr of the early church, stoned to death by the Pharisees. Most of the apostles, beginning with James the son of Zebedee (one of the “Sons of Thunder”) met with a martyr’s death.

Albrecht Vogel described the plight of the church during the Roman persecution of the first three centuries in this stark manner:

“Horror spread everywhere through the congregations; and the number of lapsi [the ones who renounced their faith when threatened] … was enormous. There was no lack, however, of such as remained firm, and suffered martyrdom rather than yielding; and, as the persecution grew wider and more intense, the enthusiasm of the Christians and their power of resistance grew stronger and stronger.”

Jesus clearly taught that following Him would never be easy. “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Peter, whose death Jesus foretold in John 21, said Christians should not be surprised at the fiery trial “as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Remarkably, the Scriptures constantly emphasize the joy and peace of the believer in the midst of suffering. When the disciples were imprisoned and beaten, they actually rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

I am well aware that as we preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, many are enduring unimaginable hardships. You can read about one of them in this issue of Decision. Pastor Saeed Abedini has been held in an Iranian prison for nearly a year because of his faith in the Lord. His courage, and the determination of his wife, Naghmeh, in seeking to win his release, is a great example of persistent prayer and reliance on God in the midst of persecution.

God can certainly bring deliverance as He did for Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, two young women who were released from the same prison in 2009. The Lord hears and answers the prayers of His people for the glory of His Name and the advancement of His Kingdom.

I’m sure the Abedinis would deeply appreciate your petitions on their behalf, not just for Pastor Saeed’s release, but also for continued strength to honor their Savior.

Nothing can stop the spread of God’s Kingdom until He comes. Those who remain faithful to the Lord in the pits of persecution are some of His chief instruments, used by the Father to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Christ far and wide.

©2013 BGEA

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.

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  1. Charlene says:

    Father God we lift before you prayers for the Sadee's family as they live and are being persecuted for their belief in you LORD as they are examples to all Christians to unite in prayer for this family. In your Holy Name we Christians pray. Amen

  2. Linda says:

    Our Faith Looks Up To Thee O Lamb Of Calverey. Thank you Jesus in our victory in you

  3. GURUVARAJA says:

    Persecution due to faith and fellowship with Lord 's church is gain for the persecutee and loss for whoever persecuted the God's children who are destined for the abyiss

  4. earnest says:

    may the Almaighty God grant freedom and justice to all those that are being held prisoners like pastor Saaed and everywhere around the world in jesus maighty name.

  5. Bright says:

    I believe Paul's exhortation to the the Philippians is still valid…”For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his name” (Phil. 1:29). Not matter what the cross has won, hence, we win!

  6. pat says:

    Oh Lord Jesus deliver your child Saeed back to his wife and church. We love and thank you Lord for answering this prayer.

  7. Abednego says:

    I pray that the God who delivered Paul and Silas will surely deliver the Abedinis but we believers must pray for them as the early church did. I wish all believers will imagine themselves in the shoes of Abedini then all of us will gather and pray.

  8. Tony says:

    Your ministry has been one of the most inspiring and uplifting ones I am blessed to get to watch and hear The Gospel of Jesus Christ! You are blessed and loved!

  9. janet says:

    I thank God for the Billy Graham Ministries and all that it is doing to spread the Gospel. i Pray that Pr Saeed will be released.

  10. Valarie says:

    Thank you BGEA for all your hard work in spreading Jesus to our World!! I pray that us believers can be more bold and courageous to stand up for Jesus everyday, everywhere and to shine his love on this world and to take others to Heaven with us!!