The Bible does not portray persecution as a product of particular political systems the way we are prone to today. Such a portrayal leads us to think of persecuted Christians as beleaguered minorities peacefully minding their own business and beliefs, whispering worship songs and Bible verses under blankets while candlelight illumines their angelic faces; meanwhile, snarling secret police officers let the dogs out in hot pursuit. Such minorities need protection, pity, and money, we reason, and we tell our own governments so.
Instead, the Bible portrays persecution as a turf war where idols and their devotees, with violence rooted in well-reasoned fear of utter loss, defend their hard-won territory and assert their rights of soul control over those they’ve cowed into submission. Biblically, it is the Christians who are on the offensive; the idols and their subjects are the ones engaged in self-defense and always appealing to governments for protection. It is the demons who ask nervously, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” They then ring up the relevant government authorities and discuss how to subdue the Christian menace, like dispatching so many unwanted bed bugs.
Persecution, in other words, happens whenever and wherever the enemy panics. Where the enemy has things well in hand (in places like America and South Korea where the pursuit of wealth, beauty, and pleasure, the opiates of the people, have reduced our societies–and, often, us–to a mellow haze), he has no need to persecute. He persecutes in the times and places where Christ is advancing at a good clip and even the enemy’s best weapons and troops seem powerless to staunch the flow.
That is why VOMK’s persecution map is different than other ones you may have seen. It does not tote up acts of violence against Christians in an effort to cause us to wring our prayerful hands nervously and thank God that we live in one of the blank, bland spots on the board. Instead, it is a strategy map, one which seeks to identify the patterns of Christ’s advance globally (which take the form of faithful martyr-witness) and the enemy’s concomitant, powerless hand-wringing (which inevitably takes the form of persecution).
Each zone represents a particular type of idolatry into which Christ is penetrating–Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Communism, and Secularism. In our ongoing updates through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and our website, you see glimpses of the martyr-witness being made in each zone and the persecution that is happening in response. For more detailed information about each zone, make sure to watch our video, The Five Zones of Persecution.
I realize it is impolitic today to refer to other religions as types of idolatry and to refer to Communism and Secularism as kinds of religion, but such is the divine classification in Psalm 2 verse 1, which refers to anything other than the worship of God as “rage” and “a vain thing”, inevitably issuing forth (in verse 3) in persecution against us. And according to the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12, even our mere desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus is enough to panic the prince of this world into persecuting us, which according to Jesus in John 8:44-45, he does through those whom he has sired, who are by rights required to do his bidding as slaves.
As in the advance of any army, even a steadfastly nonviolent one like ours, there is constantly work to do behind and before enemy lines, and even along the supply trains. In reviewing this map and the explanatory video, let us be encouraged, edified, and exercised to continue to do our part as we marvel together anew, as according to the words of Acts 11:18, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”