Like so many of you, when I gather with my family on Easter, we will celebrate the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross on Good Friday and was resurrected three days later on Easter Sunday, overcoming sin and death for each of us.
Matthew 28:1-10 reminds us of this glorious truth:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
With Easter, we celebrate life, we celebrate freedom, and we celebrate our eternal hope.
Easter also serves as a reminder that there are Christians who are suffering for their faith all around the world. There are those who are oppressed, brokenhearted, and in need of the Good News, our prayers, and our efforts to be heard on their behalf.
We must rejoice because some persecuted Christians have been vindicated and are now free.
Because hundreds of thousands of you spoke out and prayed, Pastor Saeed Abedini is out of jail in Iran and back home in the United States.
Because hundreds of thousands of you spoke out and prayed, Mariam Ibraheem who was on death row in Sudan for her Christian faith is now safely here in the United States with her husband and young children.
Because hundreds of thousands of you spoke out and prayed, Pastors Michael and Peter—who faced possible death sentences in Sudan for their faith—are now free.
Our work also vindicated the young 8-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan who was targeted for her family’s Christian faith.
While we celebrate these victories, we must also continue praying and fighting for those who remain persecuted, targeted by ISIS – the Islamic State – and other radical jihadists. Christians are beheaded, enslaved, raped, and facing a myriad of other atrocities because of their faith in Christ.
Because of your voice and our work, the Obama Administration has finally called this what it is – genocide against Christians. But the fight continues. We have a moral obligation and an international responsibility to lead the world in stopping this historic evil.
This Easter, please pray for the persecuted Church.
Indeed, He is risen! And through His life, we have hope. Happy Easter.
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