“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24: 9)
Most are familiar with the persecution of the early church, which lasted until the 4th century AD when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and declared the Roman Empire to be a Christian empire. So, this part of Christ’s Olivet prophecy did in fact play out within a generation’s time. But what about today as we move ever so closer to the end of the age? Who are the most persecuted people in the world today?
According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians die every year, targeted because of their faith in Christ. This works out to approximately eleven an hour. The Pew Research Center says that hostility to religion reached a new high in 2012, when Christians faced some form of discrimination in 139 countries, or in almost three-quarters of the world’s nations. All this seems counter-intuitive here in the West where the history of Christianity has been one of cultural dominance and control. (1) Yet even here, over the years, this has been slowly eroding. Like soil erosion, it may start out subtly and not all that noticeable in the beginning. But as it progresses and accelerates, as it has in recent years, it becomes more and more obvious.