The numbers don’t begin to tell the story. And really, it’s virtually impossible to get an exact count, anyway.
“Nobody knows exactly how many Christians are killed or imprisoned for their faith,” Franklin Graham opened the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night. “But it’s safe to say over a hundred thousand a year.”
“It’s the equivalent of Christian genocide.”
Many in attendance have already been a witness. With over 130 countries represented at the Summit—including some of the most oppressed societies globally for Christians to even exist—the reality of what persecution is is hitting home in the United States capital.
“Let us affirm our solidarity with all those suffering persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ,” Franklin Graham said.
The reality hit home when a group of people were recognized as relatives of some of the victims who suffered documented atrocities that were seen by millions through social media.
Franklin Graham says enough is enough.
“The persecution of Christians is always — in every way — evil.”
Then he answered the question many stateside believers have asked themselves, as reports of horrific acts of violence against Christians continue to stream in.
“What can we do?”
The biggest thing believers in Christ can do is pray.
“We must continue to pray for them so they will know they’re never alone,” a passionate Franklin Graham said. “We must pray for their protection, and that they’ll remain faithful to the Gospel.
“When we pray, chains fall off.
“When we pray, gates that were locked are open.
“When we pray, people are set free.”
Another goal of the conference is to connect Christians with one another so they can learn from each other and encourage one another in the faith.
And then there’s the awareness factor. An event like this—in the political capital of America—will shine a spotlight on these worldwide atrocities.
With Barry Black, the U.S. Senate Chaplain, opening the Summit in prayer and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaking at Thursday’s morning session, people in power will no longer be able to say they didn’t know.
This is happening. By one report—Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List—approximately 215 million Christians in the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian experience “high, very high or extremely high persecution.”
One of the main reasons for persecution, according to Franklin Graham, is “to suppress their faith and to marginalize their voice.”
But he reminded the crowd of Jesus’ words in John, Chapter 15, as a word of encouragement: “If the world hates you, it hated me first.”