It began with news coverage of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution from ISIS terrorists. The scenes of Christians fleeing to the mountains brought a reminder that religious persecution is an ever-present reality.
With that in mind, the Webster County Baptist Association has scheduled an association-wide prayer service at First Baptist Church of Mathiston on Oct. 25 beginning at 6 p.m. Rev. Martin Jacks, the associational director of missions, said one of the guest speakers for Saturday’s event will be Ken Rhodes, the Missions Mobilization Director for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Other speakers at this event will be members of a missions team from First Baptist Tupelo who have been involved in work with a church in Myanmar. Jacks said this is one of the areas of great persecution in the world.
“We need to get this in front of people,” Jacks said. “The recent news events showing the persecution of Christians and others by ISIS brought this persecution to national awareness but it is something that has been a fact for many years and is growing worse.”
Jacks said he hopes the County-wide Prayer Service will provide an opportunity to “share information and raise the awareness of Christian persecution; with personal testimony from missionaries and others, put a face and name to the suffering; and begin a sincere prayer effort across our county.”
Jacks said Christian persecution is on the rise throughout the world. A few statistics:
- According to Tom Heneghan, Religious Writer for Reuters News, of the 2.2 billion Christians world-wide, about 100 million are suffering persecution in 65 countries.
- More Christians suffered persecution and death for their faith in the 20th Century than in the rest of church history combined.
- The nations that are the greatest of the persecutors are either Communist or Muslim, with Muslim persecution of Christians being the most wide-spread.
Wade Stevens, pastor of First Baptist Church of Mathiston, said he hopes many will come for a time of prayer in remembrance of those who are suffering.
“We are encouraging Christians from across the county and surrounding area to come to hear a report concerning the persecution of Christians in various areas of the world and to pray for their safety and progress in the gospel,” Stevens said. “The purpose for the meeting is to raise awareness and to pray. With the recent events in Houston, Texas and the media coverage of Boko Haram and ISIS, I am hopeful that such an event with resonate with Christians in Webster County. We tend to take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in rural America. In many areas of the world, the persecution of the church has had a purifying effect that I hope we can benefit from and emulate right here at home.”
Rev. Travis Gray, pastor of First Baptist Church of Eupora and member of the Associational Missions Committee, said Saturday’s event will be a time “to have our eyes opened and our hearts filled.”
“The church is under attack from every direction,” Gray said. “…Every day we hear about another place or another person being persecuted for their Christian faith…It is time for the church to be what it was created to be — an army. Our weapons aren’t the same as the world. We must rely upon the sword of the Lord — His Word, and the love of Jesus.”
For more information about the event, contact the Webster County Baptist Association at (662) 258-5611 or FBC Mathiston at (662) 263-5323.
See this story in the October 22, 2014 edition of The Webster Progress Times at http://websterprogresstimes.com/2014/10/23/prayer-service-set-for-persecuted-christians/
See a portion of this story in the First Baptist Church of Eupora newsletter in the Baptist Record for October 23, 2014 at BR Newsletter 10-23-14
See this story in the October 22, 2014 edition of The Choctaw Plaindealer at http://choctawplaindealer.com/2014/10/22/prayer-service-set-for-persecuted-christians/