I didn’t get to show this first video but it’s a great summary of what’s happening to Christians around the world.
This is a story of John Chau, a missionary who went all-in for Christ, only to die within hours of landing on North Sentinel Island.
Some main points from the message on Acts 5:12-42
Luke starts off telling us about the miracles and wonders being performed by the Apostles (power of the Holy Spirit)
The message of “the Way” is now getting outside of Jerusalem because “people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” Acts 5:16
The High Priest and Sadducees are filled with jealousy and throw the Apostles in prison. An angel appears and lets them out. Acts 5:19 This is one of three “jail door miracles” that Luke recorded in Acts (cf. Peter in 12:6-11; and Paul and Silas in 16:26-27).
The apostles keep preaching and are caught again. This time they make the Sadducees very angry and Sad-You-See when the respond with, “we must obey God rather than man,” and then preach the Gospel directly to them. “When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.” Acts 5:33
A Pharisee named Gamaliel stands up and voices his opinion. He is the most respected man in the council. He points out that the Sadducees should let this ride out. He shares examples of past “movements” that failed once the leader died. And then proceeds to say, “So keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
*Note: Gamaliel is the Apostle Paul’s mentor. Paul will be entering the story in the next few chapters of Acts, at the end of 8. Right now, Paul is hearing of the Way the early Christians are teaching and he goes on a mission to execute many of them. Does Gamaliel even know how God just used him? He pretty much saved the early church’s momentum by freeing these apostles. He sets up the opportunity for the greatest conversion story in the history of humankind, with his own mentee.
They respect Gamaliel so much that they take his advice and listen. They beat the apostles as a form of punishment, most likely 39 lashes. What do the apostles do now? “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12
James 1: 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
According to Open Doors USA…
- 312 Million: In the top 50 World Watch List countries alone, 312 million Christians in the world experience high levels of persecution and discrimination for their choice to follow Christ.
- 1 in 7: Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution
- 5,898: Christians killed for faith-related reasons.
- 5,110: churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
- 4,765: believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned .
- 3,829: the number of Christians abducted for faith-related reasons.
- Each month 322 people lose their lives for their faith in Jesus
- 214 churches are destroyed
- 772 acts of violence are perpetrated against those who proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior
All statistics gathered during the 2022 World Watch List reporting period, October 2020-September 2021.
Compared to the Apostles and current Christians around the world, do we face persecution here in the United States?
What are some ways you’ve been affected by proclaiming your faith in Jesus? Have people ever disliked you? Unfriended you? Gave you a dirty look? Insulted you?
Being a follower of Christ is a costly, constant commitment. Are we committed to constantly sharing Him? If not, is it because we are afraid of the cost?