". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Are You Prepared to Hold Fast to Your Decision to Follow Christ?

May 5, 2024

At the 2024 March for the Martyrs, held in Washington, D.C. in honor of persecuted Christians, a unique perspective was raised. If not unique, then certainly something seemingly underdiscussed. While considering global Christian persecution, event speaker Christian Trimino asked the question: What about the American church? Are we prepared, should persecution come our way?

About making tough decisions, Trimino raised a prominent point. Overseas, where being a Christian can be a death sentence, believers face one of the most complex decisions almost daily: To be spared from torture by renouncing the faith, or to choose to follow Christ no matter the cost. But before looking deeper at this concept in America and what Trimino had to say, let’s look at some facts and statistics.

The number of persecuted Christians is increasing rapidly. In four short years, the persecuted went from roughly 265 million in 2020 to 365 million in 2024. That’s a lot of people murdered, imprisoned, tortured, and beaten for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Open Doors US, one believer is killed for their faith every two hours, which equates to roughly 5,000 Christians per year. For those who aren’t killed, Open Doors reports, so far in 2024: “4,125 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned, 3,906 believers were abducted, more than 3,200 Christians were raped, sexually harassed or forced to marry non-Christians, 42,849 followers of Jesus were physically or mentally abused, and nearly 300,000 Christians were forced to leave their homes, go into hiding or flee their country of origin.”

These statistics are truly staggering.

Can you imagine how excruciatingly painful it must be to decide to follow Christ while being held at gunpoint by a terrorist? How about if your family got kidnapped, and the only way to freedom was to renounce your faith? How would you be able to think if your church is ransacked by angry God-haters killing anyone who refuses to back down from their faith? And yet, when you hear the testimonies of those who suffer unimaginable persecution, it’s a death sentence they bear with joy because of the glorious beauty of their eternal reward. For believers who have nothing, it’s all the more blatant that with Christ, one has everything.

Christians, no matter where, need to be able to make this kind of tough decision. But what Trimino said got me thinking. As he put it, Americans seem to be in a position where we’re decreasing opportunities to make tough decisions. The young influencer emphasized our society has seen numerous technological advances in recent years. From the comfort of our homes, we can order food, groceries, and just about anything you can think of. Our phones allow us to get in touch with people next door or across the world in an instant as well as consistent access to all kinds of information. We’ve created these easy pathways while increasingly losing the practice of making hard choices. But perhaps some clarification is in order.

We do make tough decisions here in America. The difference is, we often associate tough decisions with temporary, worldly outcomes. Take job prospects, for instance. What we’re going to eat, wear, or do the next day will often occupy our conscience. What school will we or our children attend after high school? What’s the best way to manage our finances? These are all reasonable, thought-worthy quandaries that require decision making. But these are First World problems, ultimately affecting our life on earth. What I want to discuss are the tough decisions of faith, affecting us into eternity.

Really, when observing the harsh persecution around the world, we shouldn’t merely be overcome with grief but understand their reality, at any moment, could be ours as well. Of course, the American church is being attacked, and I can’t help but wonder if we are prepared to stand up for Christ no matter the cost.

While the average American Christian is not being imprisoned for their faith or worrying if they’ll survive until tomorrow, we do have tough decisions to make that carry immense weight. I wonder, have you thought about your response to someone coming to you saying they’re going to undergo gender transition surgery? What about the woman who’s convinced babies in the womb have no value and plans to seek an abortion? What about the person from high school who’s on the verge of committing suicide because they see no point in life?

I could list several additional circumstances in which we would have an incredibly difficult decision to make. It’s easy to think, “I would just share the gospel with them!” But then my question is, are you ready to follow through on that? Are you committed and equipped to tell this person caught up in LGBT ideology that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life? Are you ready to share with the expecting mother her baby is made in the image of God with inherent dignity and value? Are you ready to tell that former classmate their life has purpose in Christ? Beloved, are you ready to share all the reasons Scripture gives for why these things are true, and do so in love?

I’m aware I’ve raised a plethora of questions, but I have another. Are you ready to be hated for standing firm in your faith for Christ? I pray you are, because Jesus made clear in Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” But if you’re prepared for this opposition, then you’re preparing yourself to be the person who speaks the name of Jesus in the lives of those who truly, truly need to be saved from the world and from themselves.

Following Jesus is the best decision we could make for our eternity, and yet, that decision for Him also often leads to challenging decisions during this earthly endeavor. We need a church in America willing to stand on the entirety of the Word of God in every person’s life. Ultimately, any time we compromise or are unwilling to trust the Lord and stand firm, it’s another incidence where we may look back and ask ourselves, “Did I really believe in the promises of this faith? Did I really believe this truth was the only way to eternal life?” If so, why would you keep that to yourself? How could you ever renounce it?

Jesus said this shocking statement in Matthew 7:22-23, “On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” For those who stand firm until the end, keeping their faith in Christ alone, you’ll never hear those words. But I believe the wake-up call for us is to not allow the “workers of lawlessness” in our lives to go on without at least hearing the truth from our lips, regardless of opposition.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not your responsibility to save someone. If you do stand firm and share the truth yet see no fruit in the lives of those you shared it with, that’s no reason to feel like any kind of failure. You and I both know it’s God — and God alone who saves. But we’re responsible for being bold, because once we move from this life to the next, there’s no turning back.

As such, whether in America or not, all believers will inevitably face the decision of choosing the Lord or the world. Are you prepared to hold fast to your decision?

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.