And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved. – Matthew 10:22
Blessed are you when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake. – Matthew 5:11
Jesus is honest. Being a Christian is difficult, painful and sometimes life threatening. Depending on which watchdog group you believe, between a couple thousand and upwards of 90,000 Christians died for their faith in 2016.
If you want the details of Christian persecution, have a look at “The Global War on Christians” by John Allen. It is an excruciating read. But we need to understand that Christians today are suffering the same fate Jesus faced 2000 years ago, not just figuratively but literally. Crucifixion continues.
Check out the Open Doors website to learn the countries where a Christian’s life is most at risk. A tip: likely readers of this blog should not plan a visit to North Korea or Somalia.
Persecution is real – and relative. Suffering for the faith in North America can mean career marginalization, social ostracism, perhaps even public ridicule. In some parts of the world, it can mean imprisonment, torture and gruesome execution.
Even in the faith-friendliest place, venturing forth to publically proclaim the faith requires conviction and courage. In Regnum Christi, we’re blessed to have many folks with both.
In a dozen cities in North America this week, hundreds of young people (and some not so young) are doing missions. Their activities range from knocking on doors to living Stations of the Cross. The message is a simple one of mercy and faith.
Other Regnum Christi missionaries are carrying the message this week in Mexico, Haiti, Central America, South America and Europe. This is simple, direct, honest evangelization.
A missionary and a passing pedestrian can have a remarkable interaction on the spur of the moment, as reported in the New York RC website:
Peter “hasn’t been to confession in years! I don’t even know the act of contrition!” “Peter, with a name like that, you’ve got to go to confession, especially on this of all weeks. Don’t worry about the act of contrition. I have a guide here for you. You can meditate on it in the church, and when you’re ready, the priest will guide you through it. It will be like having a conversation with the Lord. The priest is en persona Christi. It will be amazing….” “I’m going!”
Fr Michael Sliney LC, writing for Lifezette this week, cited RC mission participant Bob Infanger:
“Based on the responses from people I have spoken to over the years, many are appreciative of the invitation and encouragement. In those brief encounters, both of us feel the tug and love of God encouraging them to a more active participation. Clearly, God acts through personal relationships — many have told me they believed our encounter was no coincidence. In a word, it felt providential. Some have specifically told stories about how this was no accidental interaction with me (and God).”
Unlike Christians in North Korea and Somalia, our North America missionaries aren’t afraid of dying in the streets this week. But they will face ridicule, maybe even threats.
I’m grateful for their effort. If we have enough missionaries in the streets today, perhaps we won’t fear for our lives tomorrow.