To the 18th century, French encyclopedist, Diderot, is attributed the enlightened observation: “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” Christ’s immortal Church has its origin in a violent, state-sponsored murder. And, although the actors may change, the same drama plays itself out on the world stage throughout the centuries: from savage barbarian to urbane philosophes, bloody suppressions of Christians are attempted again and again. The heroic witness of innumerable martyrs has not been enough to convince the world to heed the wise caution of Gamaliel: that one should not oppose Christ’s followers “lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:39)

On Nov. 10, Christians around the world will observe an International Day of Prayer for all of their brothers who are, even now, giving witness with their very lives: who love “not their lives unto the shedding of their blood.” (Rev 12:11) One of the organizers of this international initiative has observed: “Every time I ask a persecuted Christian what we can do for them, the answer is always the same: ‘please pray for us’.” Although the outcome of their trials is not in doubt, we must surely join in spirit with these brave souls so that, sharing in their struggle, we may share, too, in their victory.