Gia Chacón

Address at the First Annual March for the Martyrs

delivered 5 September 2020


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."1

If American Christians have so many blessings, they should know where their blessings come from. The words of the late Richard Rumbrand, who spent 14 years in a Soviet prison for his refusal to cease the work of God, still ring true today over 50 years later.

We are living in an era of persecution that is higher than the times of the early Church. Yes, there are more martyrs today in the Body of Christ than in the times of the early Church. In fact, there are over 260 million Christians worldwide who face high levels of persecution for their faith Our brothers and sisters are facing imprisonment, loss of businesses/ property, torture, and even death -- solely because of their faith in Christ.

There is a misconception that Christians don't suffer for their beliefs, that being Christian somehow comes with a special privilege. And we have seen in the past year hashtags on social media such as #Christian privilege trending. This notion could not be more out of touch.

I've had the honor and privilege of traveling to places in the Middle East where attending church is a death sentence and allegiance to the cross is one of the most dangerous and courageous acts one can do. I have had the honor of sitting with brave Iraqi and Syrian refugees and the Egyptian Christians that risk their lives every single day to serve the Lord. It was the experiences with the Iraqi and Syrian refugees and the brave Egyptian Christians that exposed me to the reality of what our brothers and sisters are suffering for their faith.

Taking those experiences and coming back to the West, coming back to America and having conversations with people about persecution, I came to the quick realization that not only is this issue widely ignored by the media, it is often unknown and untalked about within our communities of faith.

One third of the world faces religious oppression and an overwhelming 80 percent of the one-third are Christian. This makes Christians the most persecuted religious group.

Christian persecution is a crisis that continues to grow every single year and in the past two years we've seen Christian persecution increase by over 20 percent. And every day there are new reports of the Christian population decreasing in Iraq and Syria; Christians being slaughtered in Nigeria; and imprisoned in China and North Korea.

Why, then, is this issue so ignored?

Why is it so untalked about?

And why does the world remain silent as Christians are being targeted and executed for their faith?

After years of traveling with my grandmother, Dr. Michelle Carell, the Lord placed a heavy burden on my heart for the persecuted. What can we do? I sought God about this: What can we do as Christians in the West to make an impact in the lives of the persecuted?

It was then that the Lord laid it on my heart to found For the Martyrs and to hold a March for the Martyrs to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Christians.

Oftentimes, when you speak to someone who has suffered greatly for their fake -- or for their faith in Christ, they will say two things. First, in regard to what they need most they will almost always ask you to pray for them; and secondly, they will thank you for knowing and caring about their suffering.

Scripture teaches us that when one member of the Body of Christ suffers we all suffer.2 And we have an obligation as Christians of the West to use our platforms and our freedoms to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of the suffering faithful.

In the West, we march for life; we march to celebrate; we march for our rights; and now, for the first time in United States history, we have marched to stand on solidarity with the persecuted Church.

Perhaps a paraphrase gleaned from Tertullian's The Apology of Tertullian for the Christians: "But do your worst, and rack your inventions for tortures for Christians—it is all to no purpose; you do but attract the world, and make it fall the more in love with our religion; the more you mow us down, the thicker we rise; the Christian blood you spill is like the seed you sow, it springs from the earth again, and fructifies the more." (emphasis added) [See also: Fernandes, J.]

2 1 Corinthians: 12-26: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (NIV)

Page Updated: 3/3/23

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