When discussing the new movie, Caviezel talked about the horrific persecution that Christians have faced throughout history — an oppression that the church still suffers today, in many parts of the world. He pointed out that many Christians nowadays do not like to talk about the cross and suffering. He said, “How do I know that? Because they come to me and say, ‘I don’t want to see your movies. They are too violent.’ And so I tell them, ‘OK, then I will pray that no one ever comes to you and says, ‘Deny Jesus or die.’ Because this is happening right now.’”
Caviezel is right. According to an article published by Christianity Today in January 2018, approximately 215 million Christians now experience “high, very high, or extreme levels of persecution.” On top of the list is Kim Jung-un’s country, ranking as the No. 1 spot on the list for 16 years in a row.
It’s hard for us to imagine it. We live in a country founded on the principles of religious freedom; therefore, even the harshest form of religious hatred or intolerance in America pales in comparison to what happens across the world. But it should not surprise us: Jesus himself warned his disciples that they would be hated because of his name. And yet, his true followers know that the message of unconditional love and forgiveness that puzzled the crowd gathered around his cross, and shook the Roman empire to its core, still challenges us today: “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they are doing.”
This Sunday, as believers across the world gather to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, may we remember to pray for the saints who, through the ages, paid and still pay the ultimate price to carry the gospel throughout the world.
You can watch my interview with Jim Caviziel on my website: www.soaringwithHim.com. Visit www.paulmovie.com for a theater near you.