Persecution Of Christians
Living in the Middle East
By: Father Francisco Cervantes

Father Francisco Cervantes

CatholicView received an email from a young Middle Eastern man who who asked for prayers because of the grim situation that is currently happening in his country.  Father Francisco Cervantes has this to say concerning the troubling happenings because of Christian belief:

“I am overwhelmed by the events happening in the Middle East and especially Egypt in regards to the persecution of Christians by terrorists using religion as a pretext for murder and persecution.  I feel helpless and I, too, ask God where He is in these kinds of horrible situations.  I am immediately reminded of the biblical verse in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 11 when Jesus said this:  “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

God has a long range plan, a plan much bigger than our individual selves, and the persecution of the Church in parts of the world is part of the big plan which is simply the destruction of evil, hate, and death itself.   This is alluded to in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 6, Verses 9 – 11: “When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God.  They cried out in a loud voice, ‘How long will it be, holy and true Master, before You sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?  Each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to be patient a little while longer until the number was filled of their fellow servants and brothers who were going to be killed as they had been.”

Here, the souls of the persecuted were asking the same questions concerning the persecution and murder of Christians in the Middle East.  God’s comment was to be patient and wait a little longer before He intervenes and brings His justice which is radically different from our own vision of “justice.”  God’s justice is to make all things right, to fix what is broken.  In God’s infinite vision, you play an important part in the final victory over evil even though you feel helpless and fearful.  Your struggles and your pain which no one can truly understand are part of the sacrifice of love that you give to God with a patient heart until all things are caught up in Christ.  This is what Saint Paul writes about in Colossians Chapter 1, Verse 24:  “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His Body, which is the Church.

The issue with all those struggling every day in life and death situations because of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not focusing on the persecution, but rejoicing in the fact that Christians are being persecuted because of the name of Jesus.  I know that what I just said sounds absolutely ridiculous and makes no sense in this situation.  But you have a choice; either rejoice in the Lord and trust in His plan which is much bigger than any of us, or just stop believing, have no hope, and wallow in the pain that is in you and all around you.  The great saints, such as Saint Paul (and Saint Mark the gospel writer, the patriarch-founder of the Coptic Church), decided to rejoice in the persecution that surrounded them and was aimed at them, instead of cursing at life and living a miserable life.  There seems to be no answer to the persecution of my fellow Christians of the Coptic Church (both Orthodox and Catholic).  But God knows what He is doing.  And I trust in Him absolutely even when things do not make sense to me. Please know that you are not alone even though you feel alone.

All who believe as Christians are with you in prayer, while others are doing things in the political sphere to stop the persecution.  But do not give up.  He knows the love in your heart and how you are searching for Him everywhere.  Just know that He lives within all of you and around you.  Walk with your head held high and do not fear.

With God on our side, who can be against us?  Trusting in God and believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is truly the only way to go during persecution.  And when your faith is your guiding light, all things to be concerned about will be taken care of by God’s eternal and healing love.

We will be holding all those who are suffering for their beliefs in Jesus Christ in prayer and asking the Lord to give those who suffer, strength to keep moving forward.”  – Father Francisco Cervantes