It’s difficult for the average American to imagine what it’s like to be persecuted for your faith, or even martyred for it.
However, there are many Christians in other parts of the world who have never known religious freedom, yet they have decided to embrace a relationship with Christ. In fact, over 360 million Christians around the globe live where persecution exists, according to OpenDoorsUSA.org.
September 24th marked the third annual March for the Martyrs. It was attended by about 200 religious freedom advocates who desired to raise awareness among the general American public, and especially the American church, to recognize the value and blessing of religious freedom in America, according to the Christian Post.
In addition, it aimed to encourage more open discussions about religious freedom, and look for ways to speak out and be more supportive of those in other countries who don’t get to enjoy that blessing.
“Christian persecution is a human rights crisis, and it should be treated with the same level of urgency as any other crisis,” Gia Chacon, founder of For the Martyrs and the March for the Martyrs told Fox Digital News.
Live worship, speeches from Chacon, and stories from escaped persecuted Christians were woven throughout the event.
Advocates standing in solidarity with persecuted Christians gathered at the National Sylvan Theater and marched about a mile to the Museum of the Bible.
During the event, Chacon spoke about conversations she has had with Iraqi and Syrian refugees and the “atrocities that they faced because of their faith,” as well as, “whole villages in a single night, hundreds of thousands of Christians pushed out of their homes and killed in front of their families.
“ISIS or Islamist militants would come into their homes and charge them with the question, ‘Are you a Christian?’ And if they said yes, it ultimately meant death or being pushed out of their home,” Chacon said.
“And these brave Christians, in the middle of the night, when they knew that ISIS was coming, when they knew that ultimately, they would be met with either death or torture, did they back down? Did they say, ‘well, if they come to our door, then the easier thing will just be to convert?'”
Chacon pointed out that they did no such thing. Instead, they stood up for what they believed, and paid a great price for it.
“They fled because having Jesus to them meant having everything,” she continued, “and even if they lost everything, their family, their brothers and sisters, their moms and dads … if they could keep Jesus, that was more than enough for them, so they fled.”
Another speaker at the event, evangelist Shane Winnings, told the crowd that, “Everyone here might not be called in your lifetime to die a martyr’s death, but you are called to live a martyr’s life. If we want to march for the martyrs, then we must first be willing to martyr our own lives before anyone else gets the chance to do it.”
It’s important for the American people, and especially Christians, to recognize the importance of hanging on to religious freedom.
Approximately 350,000 religious congregations are involved in operating schools, pregnancy centers, feeding programs for those struggling financially, drug addiction programs, homeless shelters and adoption agencies, according to Heritage.org.
As a result, about 70 million Americans are getting the assistance they need every year, and it’s estimated that the value of these services is over a trillion dollars annually.
That being said, everyone truly benefits from religious freedom.