Persecution still happens. Somehow in our protected little world the thought of it doesn't cross a lot of Christians' minds. It seems a thing of the past. When people think of persecution, they most likely think of missionaries getting eaten by headhunters or Christians being burnt alive in the jungles of Burma (modern-day Myanmar). What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that those things still do happen, and it has never stopped.
Here in America, the worst thing that could happen to a Christian is getting scoffed at by the media or to have someone call them a name. Somehow when this happens, Christians seem to think that it is something terrible and they put the name "persecution" on it. However, Christians in America would very rarely ever lose their job because of their faith, nor would they be put to death for their faith. I am very thankful for the protection that we do have here in America, but this easy way of living a Christian life tends to create a lot of false Christianity. These Christians would turn from their faith as soon as something better turned up or as soon as Christianity didn't seem to be in favor.
I sometimes wonder if you would be more blessed to live under persecution and to have to grow up in the faith through that way than to struggle against the stream of the Western World. There is a lot of persecution going on in the East today. I often find myself wondering if it is not more blessed to live under such persecution where Christians and non-Christians have such a sharp contrast and where Christians are forced to grow up in the faith because they have little or nothing. Wealth, riches, and freedom are often a stumbling block to Christians in the West. They someone think that they did something to deserve what they have instead of how it really is - God, through His grace, providing for us our daily needs.
My thoughts turn particularly to the persecution in India. Hindus have never been all that friendly toward Christians, but after a key Hindu leader was killed, Hindu activists assumed that it was the Christians' fault and immediately started persecuting them. Though the persecution is happening all around India to a certain degree, it is particularly bad in Orissa and Mangalore. Many people have been beat unmercifully, and many more have even been burned to death. Still more people have been put into prison, only to die from the bad conditions. Hardly anyone in the West knows about it, yet it has had catastrophic effects on many, many people there.
In no way am I saying that it is easy to live a persecuted life. It isn't fun to be tortured or to be put to death. These people do need support, and they do need the grace of God to make it through such hard times. Those are not the only people being brutally persecuted. China, as soon as the Olympic games were over, started cracking down on Christians throughout all of China. In Somalia Christians are being beheaded.
Those of us who have the freedom to be able to live a Christian life without persecution should be praying for and supporting our family in Christ. We should be praying that God would use the persecution to strengthen the body of Christ. We should also pray that by the grace of God, these Christians would stay strong in the faith - even in the face of death - and that God would use their circumstances to help them to grow up in the faith.