Gia Chacon, 'For the Martyrs' founder.
Some amazing organizations bring awareness to Christian persecution around the world. Among these organizations includes For the Martyrs, a non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness about the crisis of Christian Persecution and advocate for religious freedom. Gia Chacon, the founder of For the Martyrs, is best known for her humanitarian work and religious freedom advocacy. Chacon was raised in a devout Christian household; she spent some years of her life where one foot was planted firmly in her faith while the other was dipping into the world. Chacon explained the foot, which was "dipping into the world," became a ball and chain, pulling her deeper into heartache and compromise. At the time, she worked at what she believed was her dream job but felt a sense of emptiness.
"Eventually, I got to a place where I didn't recognize the person looking back at me. So, I said a simple prayer. I said, 'Lord, I know that anyone who is in you is a new creation, and I want that new creation life.' Within one week, my life was turned upside down, but it was for the better," Chacon said.
Chacon ended up quitting her dream job, and two weeks later, she found herself in Egypt working with her grandmother, who owns a non-profit organization focused on international crisis relief. While ministering to the persecuted Church in Egypt, Chacon gave her life to the service of Christ.
"While there, we were ministering to the persecuted Church, and it was a big conference of hundreds of pastors across all denominations that came together to strengthen each other up and build up the body of Christ… I experienced for the first time the faith of the persecuted Church, and I realized that it's not just older generations and it's not just pastors that are willing to risk everything for the sake of the Gospel, but it was young people just like myself who were willing to lay down their lives for Christ, and that impacted me deeply," Chacon shared with Red Liberty Media.
Chacon explained that she was never the same when she returned to the states. Initially, she continued working alongside her grandmother and with her grandmother's non-profit. Through her grandmother's non-profit organization, Chacon had the opportunity to travel to persecuted Churches and work with Iraqi and Syrian refugees. "I would say it was really with the Iraqi and Syrian refugees that the Lord broke my heart for the persecuted Church. Being able to sit with them and hear their stories, hear the things that they faced at the hands of Islamic extremism, and the sheer number of Christians who had been killed for their faith and pushed out of their countries impacted me deeply. I began researching into Christian persecution."
Chacon realized that globally, Christian persecution was on the rise and is the most persecuted religious group. "I started sharing this information with my friends and my family and my Community of Faith," Chacon stated. " I realized that Christian persecution is widely unknown and un-talked about within our communities of faith."
Chacon started asking herself, 'what can I do to make a difference in the lives of the persecuted church?' and 'what does the church in the United States have the power to do?' Chacon felt inspired and founded her non-profit organization, For the Martyrs, and organized a March for the Martyrs -- a movement that stands in solidarity with the persecuted Church.
This year March for the Martyrs will be held in Washington DC on September 25th to raise public awareness on Christian persecution. Last year their first March was held in Long Beach, CA. These marches are the first in United States history to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Church.
March for the Martyrs 2020, Long Beach, CA.
Chacon gives a speech about Christian persecution.
"Our goal is to raise awareness about Christian persecution. We believe that knowledge inspires action; the more people who are aware of the suffering of the persecuted Church, the more that can be done to aid them and advocate on their behalf," stated Chacon.
March for the Martyrs' mission statement is "For the Martyrs seeks to raise awareness about Christian persecution, advocate religious freedom, and provide aid to suffering Christians." They do that through social media and through the March for the Martyrs. Chacon said they are the first movement for the persecuted Church. They bring together Christians from all denominations to unify around the issue. On their most recent trip, they brought Operation Christmas for Armenia. In December, they brought Christmas presents to the Armenian children who were recently displaced because of the war, fueled by Christian persecution. In a couple of months, Chacon stated, they will be going to Uganda to bring medical aid to about 700 orphans that are suffering. The non-profit organization has projects supporting Iraqi refugees living in Jordan and raising money to smuggle Bibles. "As we continue to grow and as we continue to see crisis, like the war, we will be responding to those and bring missions."
'Operation Christmas' for Armenian Children.
There are several ways to get involved with the non-profit organization, For the Martyrs. For starters, you can pre-register on their website and join the March for the Martyrs movement. Chacon also encourages those interested in joining the movement to follow "March for the Martyrs" on social media. Through social media, March for the Martyrs 'helps educate their following on Christian persecution. Chacon encourages those who want to bring awareness to Christian persecution to share some of their posts with their own following.
"I would also encourage people to start prayer groups… throughout my travels, any time that I have spoken to somebody who's persecuted, we'll always ask them, 'where else can we help you?' And they will almost always say, 'please continue to pray for us." A need of the persecuted Church is continued prayer. Chacon stated the persecuted also tell her "thank you for knowing about our suffering."
According to Open Doors USA's World Watch list, over three hundred and forty million Christians worldwide face high levels of persecution. "Christians are facing imprisonment, loss of their businesses, loss of their property, pushed out of their homes, torture, and even death solely because of their faith in Christ," Chacon stated. Chacon also mentioned how another UK government report found that Christians were the most persecuted religious group. One-third of the world faces religious oppression, and 80% of the oppressed are Christian. Many have a hard time believing this statistic and often blame it on Christianity being the largest religious group. Chacon says that this is not true. "When you look at a country like Nigeria, for example, they are a majority Christian country, but as a result of Islamic extremism, they're now facing more deaths of Christians because of persecution than in Iraq and Syria combined."
In America, we do not face persecution like many of our brothers and sisters do in other parts of the world. Chacon said it well," We're at a place in our country where Christians are really at a Crossroads. How much is the Church going to continue to allow?"
We live in a world where persecution towards Christians is happening in places like North Korea and China, where the government says what the Church is and isn't allowed to do. Any Christian who gets in the way will face imprisonment and be sent to labor camps. Chacon pointed out these people are not inciting violence or creating public disorder but are charged for simply speaking out of scripture. Other times, persecution is fueled by Islamic extremism in places like Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria, where there has been a mass Exodus of Christians because of Isis and other extremist groups. "Christians in Egypt and many other places throughout the Middle East and even in the Gulf countries are seen as second-class citizens," stated Chacon.
Chacon at Syrian Border with Syrian Refugees.
Though Chacon's organization was founded a few months before the global pandemic hit, they ended up moving forward with their first March back in September 5th of 2020. "I think that the pandemic changed the eyes, changed the minds, and softened the hearts of a lot of Christians here," Chacon stated. "For the first time, Christians in the United States are seeing what it would be like if we were persecuted. Amidst covid-19 where churches were forced to close, and our Governors were cracking down on church services -- we had leaders of Marxist organizations calling for the destruction of Christian property. And as a result of that, we saw churches burned to the ground, and Christian property destroyed under the guise of social justice," Chacon Continued.
Chacon stated that there had been an uptick in hostility toward Christians here in the United States in the last year. "I think it helped them relate more to the persecuted church because it can seem a lot of times like we're separated from the suffering of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, but we know that scripture teaches us when one member of the body of Christ suffers; we all suffer."
Authors Final Remarks:
Now more than ever, it is vital for Christians to stand firm and stay true to biblical principles. American Christians can be the voice for the persecuted in a world where statistics are seldom talked about. As Americans, we should not see ourselves as separated from the persecuted Church but rather see how we are connected. We must remember our obligation to stand up for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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About the Author:
Marilyn Upchurch is a college student majoring in production. She is an ambassador for several non-profit organizations such as Prager Force and Falkirk Center. According to Upchurch her greatest ambassador role is being an “ambassador for Christ.” Her content on Instagram is primarily focused on the gospel. Upchurch also considers herself an advocate for free speech.