Bible Studies Don’t Fix Religious Persecution 

EMQ » July–September 2023 » Volume 59 Issue 3

The bodies of women and girls can become a vehicle for imparting shame on Christian communities. PHOTO BY IFRAH AKHTER, UNSPLASH.

Summary: Walking away from current beliefs into new ones is never neutral. In places where Christian faith is unwelcomed or illegal, following Jesus has implications for everything from family relationships to national identity. Persecution often results, and its methods are not always easily recognizable. In order to offer better support and help strengthen the church, missionaries walking with these believers must grow in awareness of persecution dynamics. 

By Helene Fisher and Elizabeth Lane Miller

Embracing a new belief risks offense. Evangelical Christian missionaries inherently invite individuals to make the radical (and often controversial) choice of walking away from their current belief or non-belief. It is never a neutral activity. Whether in North America, the Middle East or Asia, it is a choice involving temporal implications for cherished family traditions and national identities, as well as eternal destinies. This is undoubtedly why Jesus promised his disciples that they would be persecuted. 

Open Doors International is not a mission agency, but it is committed to supporting believers in the most difficult lands, so that they can remain as salt and light – in other words, as a witness to those seeking spiritual truth. We have the immense privilege of walking alongside the church so that known patterns of persecution dynamics are no longer as effective.   

A Web of Forces, the latest Open Doors World Watch Research (WWR) report on gender-specific religious persecution, gives insight into how men and women are made to suffer for their faith in Jesus.  

Having a deep understanding of the dynamics of how the men, women, boys, and girls of the church are most likely to be persecuted is the first step to discerning how to strengthen a church, especially with believers who are new in the Christian faith. It involves far more than a quick Bible study on courage, or reassurance of having what to say “when the time comes.”  

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