Pastor's Corner: What is the most dangerous country for Christians?

By DANIEL AUSBUN
First Baptist Church, Moreland
Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country with 170 million people.
It is the continent’s number one oil producer. Nigeria is also the most dangerous country for Christian persecution.
Last year over 765 churches were destroyed. Earlier this month, 50 Christians were burned alive at their pastor’s home. Christians in Jos, Nigeria learned over 100 suicide bombers had recently arrived in their city, targeting them.
Jerry Dykstra, of Open Doors USA, which is a Christian persecution watchgroup, stated, “Nigeria is truly becoming the new killing field for Christians. Hundreds of Christians have already been brutally murdered, including women and children by the Boko Haram. The Boko Haram earlier this week said that all Christians need to turn to Islam or ‘they would never know peace again.’ Their goal is to make Nigeria a country run and dominated by Shariah law.”
The Boko Haram is a violent, jihadist terrorist organization located in northeastern Nigeria. Their goals are to established Islamic law throughout Nigeria, remove Western influences and eliminate Christianity.
Why should believers in Newnan, Georgia care about our brothers and sisters in Nigeria? In Nigeria, 55 percent of the population is Christian and 50 percent of the nation is Muslim. There is aChristian majority in Southern Nigeria and a Muslim majority in Northern Nigeria.
These are the two largest religions in the world, and Nigeria is almost equally divided.
Both of these religions have separate and somewhat competing cultures. Trend watchers keep a close eye on Nigeria because it might offer a glimpse of the future church, levels of persecution and Christian-Muslim relationships.

Nigeria is the second fastest growing country on earth – behind India – and by 2050 will be the third most populated country on earth behind India and China.

Nigeria has been referred to as the capital of Africa, and the future of Christianity rests in Africa and East Asia. Yale University historian Lamin Sanneh stated, that “African Christianity was not just an exotic, curious phenomenon in an obscure part of the world, but that African Christianity might be the shape of things to come.”

Believers “over here” cannot ignore what God is doing “over there” in Nigeria and the persecution they endure. If Christianity means to you a service, a pastor, a song, a place for kids to play or watching Charles Stanley on TV – you’re missing the global mission of God – and the religious freedom many Christians lack. Last century more believers were murdered for their faith than any other century – 200 million.

Christian oppression is usually unseen by the world – but Jesus told us to expect it. In John 15:20 Jesus proclaimed, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

Here are four ways you can help the persecuted church:

First, get educated. Begin reading Operation World and follow updates at www.persecution.org and www.opendoorsusa.org. From my experience, most Christians in the United States are ignorant of religious persecution.

In 2011, no one in the United States was martyred for their faith in Christ.

Second, pray. After getting educated, you’ll know specific needs to pray for. For example, we should be praying for the churches in Jos, Nigeria – that the Lord will protect and strengthen them and they won’t quit their evangelism efforts because of the recent bombings.

Third, give. Southern Baptists give to the International Mission Board, which supports 5,000 missionaries, many whom are working with unengaged and unreached people groups. Use caution if giving directly to churches or people overseas – giving through an agency or board with accountability is safer.

Fourth, go. Save up and take a one-week mission trip to an area of the world enduring persecution.

I remember seeing a church in Indonesia that had been bombed a year earlier. They had repaired it, and Christ was being worshiped there again.

Jesus does not want you to live a safe and easy life. Your life goal is not to pay your monthly bills. You were created for Him, to live for Him, and to die for Him.



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