Sacred to Jesus’ followers is the gathering and connecting as a close family of believers each week. The adoring worship of God is the embodiment of life, experienced in joy and love as we hear the very words of Christ. From an American mindset, the idea of being murdered at church is a nightmarish reality that most of us struggle to wrap our heads around. Still, believers in numerous persecuted countries worldwide have higher odds of getting killed at church.
Recent Attacks on Sunday Resulting in Killing and Kidnaping
Consider the two Christians who perished on May 5, 2022, in a fire in Uganda, where the fundamental Muslim instigators burned down the church and ran away before being identified. The pastor and some members escaped, but two elderly believers could not and died at the scene, burned beyond recognition.
Can you imagine the shock, sadness, and loss experienced by their family members and friends?
Furthermore, consider what happened in Northern Nigeria on June 19. The deaths of believers and the kidnapping of forty-six others at a church left an entire community reeling. Can you imagine attending worship one Sunday and two-thirds of your congregation becomes kidnapped? The future suddenly looks different.
These are not isolated incidents. Open Doors estimates a daily average of sixteen Christians killed, making about 500 martyrs per month. That means, on average, sixty-four believers die for their faith every month on Sundays. Let that sink in a moment. And these are the ones we hear of.
SOM International also understands this loss personally through a global network of church planters. In the past five years, three church planters have been killed. In January 2022, a church planter was shot four times by Maoist rebels in a remote region of India. SOM International’s honor was to mourn and assist these families and communities through this loss.
Even in the United States, there was a murderous rampage by a white supremacist on June 17, 2015, in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. During a Bible study, an intruder killed seven believers, including the pastor (who was a state senator).
When Pain Comes on Sundays
How should we respond to the heartbreaking news of those who die at church meetings? Foremost, count yourself blessed if you’re among those with freedom and safety to worship. Freedom to fully engage in our Savior’s adoration is a GIFT and should not be taken for granted.
In addition, we should remember our brothers and sisters who face severe physical and emotional pain on Sundays or other days of worship. We need to stand with them in faith and prayer for God’s protection on behalf of those who seek a safe place to worship. In restricted nations, plans are frequently made for paths to escape from calamity should intruders disrupt a peaceful service. With this in mind, pray for wisdom for leaders in knowing how to prepare and respond.
Also, pray the Holy Spirit would provide warnings in advance of the threats, especially in nations such as Nigeria, Uganda, China, Iran, Iraq, India, and Afghanistan.
Count the Cost: Christians Around the World Still Gather Even Though They may be Killed at Church
How committed to attending worship will you be when the day arrives in America that you lose your freedoms, or even your life, for engaging in Sunday worship? The odds of getting killed at church (or other gatherings) continue to increase. Consider the great joy, benefits, and privilege of engaging in corporate worship with like-hearted believers, despite the costs. The Scripture teaches, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10 NIV). This is a beautiful truth, even if that “one day” is your last.
Join SOM International in supporting our global family who risk much for gathering.