This Holy Week, as I gather together with my family, we 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. He was the ultimate Passover lamb.
With Easter, we celebrate life, we celebrate freedom, and we celebrate our eternal hope.
Matthew 28: 1-10 reminds us of how the truth of Easter Sunday changes everything:
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.”
The hope that lies with the Cross, the empty tomb, and the resurrected Christ is as important for us today as it was for those women and Jesus’s disciples thousands of years ago.
For those of us living in America, we can often take our freedom to celebrate Easter for granted, while our fellow Christians around the world are persecuted and suffer greatly for their faith.
There are Christians being slaughtered by terrorists as they worship as part of the Islamic State’s genocide against Christians. ISIS has one goal – to exterminate Christians and other religious minorities from the face of the Earth. They perpetrate a host of unspeakable evils and atrocities against Christians – enslavement, beheadings, crucifixions, sexual barbarity, and more. While many entities, including the U.S. government, have formally acknowledged the genocide is occurring, the United Nations must still declare it genocide, and the entire free world must act to put an end to it.
Other Christians like American Pastor Andrew Brunson sit in overcrowded prison cells for their faith. Pastor Brunson faithfully loved and served the people of Turkey for more than two decades. This Easter, he is separated from his wife and children, celebrating Easter alone as the only Christian in his prison cell. The government has still provided no evidence for their absurd, trumped-up charges against him.
In Sudan, where Mariam Ibraheem and Pastors Michael and Peter were saved from death row because of the global Church’s prayers and advocacy, anti-Christian persecution is ramping up once again. Christians are being arrested. Churches are being demolished. Our fellow Christians are crying out for justice. And while our advocacy helped free Pastor Kuwa, Pastor Hassan still faces a 12-year prison sentence for his Christian faith. We continue our advocacy and prayers for him.
In Pakistan, Christians continue to face persecution, including mother-of-five Asia Bibi, sitting on death row for her faith. Her final appeal has been delayed numerous times, making our advocacy more important than ever.
There are countless other Christians who are oppressed, brokenhearted, and in need of the Good News, our prayers, and our efforts to be heard on their behalf.
This Easter, please pray for the persecuted Church.
Our resurrected Savior is using His Church to be his hands and feet to seek justice for the oppressed, care for the widows and orphans, and love this fallen world.
His perfect life, persecution, and resurrection give us and our fellow Christians facing persecution great hope.
Indeed, He is risen! Happy Easter.
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