“My son, Trust in the Lord at all times, and always be ready to forgive as you have been forgiven.”
Life is full of hard, difficult choices. One of the most life-changing choices we can make is to forgive someone who has harmed us. To forgive is a choice. In this circumstance, when we have been harmed, especially unjustly, it is especially hard, especially difficult, to forgive those who have harmed us.
It’s a choice Jesus made. It’s a choice we must make, in order to be like Him. It is something we can choose to do, but we can only make this choice with His help.
There is a tremendous power in forgiveness. There is tremendous freedom in forgiveness. To forgive is powerful. To forgive sets us free.
In January, 1994, Bishop Haik Hovsepian was faithfully serving God in Iran. He was brutally murdered “for his Christian faith and ministry.”
His son, Gilbert Hovsepian, wrote and recorded this song, “I Forgive You,” which speaks of how Gilbert forgave his father’s murderers. Gilbert now ministers in Iran … the same country, and to the same people, which his father had ministered to …
“I choose to do what Jesus did for me … I forgive you for all you have done … I forgive you for all the pain you caused …”
Here’s a link to the Hovsepian family website, where the family of Haik Hovsepian continues his legacy, vision, and passion for the people of Iran:
As we continue toward Sunday, Nov. 4, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, let’s remember our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, serving in Hostile and Restricted Countries around the world. Every day.
I encourage you to pray-every day-for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe. The Scriptural basis for this is clear from Hebrews 13:3: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
A short time ago, I really felt the call to add the persecuted church to my daily prayer list. Every day, I pray for those who seek to harm or destroy Israel, praying that they will realize “the benefits of befriending Israel.” I add to this prayer for those facing persecution around the globe, and I pray for the captors … whether it is national or a local group … that these groups and individuals will turn … “from persecuting the church to protecting the church.”
Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. The number of Christians who are killed because of their faith is staggering. In my research, the numbers reported by various agencies or sources varied greatly … but … even the lowest estimate of Christians who have been killed for their faith is … well … staggering.
Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Christ (Source: U.S. Department of State).
One of the worst countries in the world for the persecution of Christians is North Korea. With the exception of four official state-controlled churches in Pyongyang, Christians in North Korea face the risk of detention in the prison camps, severe torture and, in some cases, execution for practicing their religious beliefs. North Koreans suspected of having contact with South Korean or other foreign missionaries in China, and those caught in possession of a Bible, have been known to be executed (Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide).
In 41 of the 50 worst nations for persecution, Christians are being persecuted by Islamic extremists. (Source: Open Doors)
More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined [christianity.com]. Currently over 100 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide [Reuters, 2013] 70 percent of the world’s population lives in a religiously intolerant environment [Pew Forum, 2011] North Korea: in 2015 it continues to be the worst country in the world for persecution. Iran: Its parliament believes Muslims who change their faith should be put to death.
Here is the definition of “persecution” from the website of Release International: “Why are Christians Persecuted? Religious persecution can be defined as the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group simply because of their belief. In other words, the persecution is unwarranted. Christians have been persecuted from earliest times e.g. Acts 8.1 and believers were told to expect it: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you …” (John 15:20). “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Why persecution? The root cause of persecution is spiritual, not ideological. Satan hates both national Israel (the Jews) and spiritual Israel, the church. In fact, he wages war upon both Jew and believer in Christ (Rev 12:17), and since he is still ruler of this world (until Christ comes-John 12:31) he uses the world e.g. humanistic law in Europe, or extremists of other faiths, to carry out his aims.”
It is amazing to me how little, in the United States, we even hear a casual mention of the atrocities facing the church around the globe. Unless we subscribe to certain news feeds or reports, we just don’t hear much about it … I wonder why that is?
Of course, I know we all know why that is …
Please continue to pray for those “that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” We are, after all, members of the same body.
Here is a video from CBN which offers a global view of suffering Christians around the world: