Most American Christians do not lead typical Christian lives. The typical Christian lives in a developing country, speaks a non-European language, and exists under the constant threat of persecution--of murder, imprisonment, torture, or rape.

The persecutor's sword dangles by a hair over Christians in the still-communist countries and in lands where the rising tide of Islamism overwhelms political efforts at fairness, tolerance, and due process. Human rights and religious liberty are high-sounding abstractions. But for these believers, the lack of basic liberties American Christians take for granted is a datum of daily existence:

* In China, where anywhere from 40 million to 115 million Christians worship in "house churches" outside government control, believers know that each time they gather it may be the last time they hear their pastor preach or see the sister beside them raise her hands in praise.

* In Sudan, a program of "cultural cleansing" has been under way for many years. Soldiers from the country's Muslim north round up children from the Christian and animist south, relocate them in detention camps, force them to live as Muslims, and conscript them into the armed forces at very young ages.

* In rural areas of Egypt, Muslim thugs force Christian farmers to pay protection money. Those who don't have been shot and killed. Christian girls have been raped by Muslim men, pressured to marry the rapist, and then convert to Islam in the process.


It is easy to forget the realities of the typical Christian's life, living as we do in a country formed in the age of toleration and the discovery of personal liberty. But remember them, we must.

We must remember them in prayer. Prayer unites us with God's heart, ...

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