In America, we don't see much persecution of Christians - not in the physical sense (yet). But elsewhere in the world, it's a far different story. Right now, 200 million Christians live in areas of intense persecution, and each year, 100,000 Christians are murdered for their faith (see here).
Persecution of Christians most often takes place in countries dominated by Islamic or Communist ideologies - so, a huge chunk of Asia (including, but far from limited to, China and North Korea), the Middle East, Northern Africa, and portions of South and Central America.
These Christians - our brothers and sisters - have their houses and churches burned, battery acid thrown in their faces, they are brutally beaten in the streets, raped, imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Their only "crime" in all of this is holding to the same faith you and I share.
For more information, specific stories of individuals, and prayer requests, check out the Voice of the Martyrs website.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
- 2 Timothy 3:12
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
- Matthew 16:25.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Matthew 5:10
But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles...You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
- Matthew 10: 17-18, 22
We must continually pray for our brothers and sisters facing persecution. We must encourage our elected officials to put international pressure on the persecuting countries to embrace freedom of religion - while America remains somewhat accepting of Christianity. We must prepare ourselves for the day coming soon when we, too, will face hard-core persecution. And every day until then, we absolutely must take every opportunity to share the Good News with others, build up other Christians in our lives, and invest in our own walks with Christ.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
- Ephesians 5:15-16