5 Levels of Persecution

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Sitting in our comfy North American homes, we who call ourselves Jesus followers have a far-off view of persecution. We read about it in the Bible. We know Jesus was persecuted. We know his disciples were beaten up and chained, but as we reason “that was then. Nothing like that happens today.”  

Then, someone reminds us of the Christians in China and other communist countries that face persecution; separated from their families, imprisoned in hard-labor camps for decades, beheaded on video, and broadcasted on the internet. 

Before the Iron Curtain fell (November 9, 1989), I served on staff of a Christian hotel and conference center in the Austrian Alps. University students from all over Europe would come to hear Bible teachers unpack God’s Word. Some of those attendees came from communist Eastern Block countries where owning a Bible and admitting you are a Jesus follower would bring severe penalties. I recall listening to these young students explain how they would take the train and smuggle out a Bible just to be at the castle and hear God’s Word preached. My North American view of Jesus was slapped in the face when I realized the cost those young Christians paid to follow Jesus. 

Persecution is real.

“But, not in North America.”, you say.  Think again.  Here are five levels of increasing persecution.  Steps that are happening in the USA and Canada.

1. Name Calling. As culture moves away from a Judeo-Christian value system and applauds lifestyles contrary to what God says, Jesus-followers find themselves increasingly under a negative name-calling movement.  Major media is quickly developing an urban dictionary that labels Christians, such as:

  • Extremist
  • Far-right
  • Anti-choice
  • Transphobic

“Oh, you’re one of those people! I guess you have to hold on to your Bible as a crutch, you weak-minded imbecile. You are the reason that holds us back from our full-on freedom to practice our choices. This country would be better without you.”

2. Vilify. As the name-calling increases, culture begins to vilify Christians. We become, in their minds, a danger to society. We are a threat to their way of living. We are terrible people for not complying with the new narrative. It’s usually not an outright attack on the doctrine of Jesus. Rather the vilification comes when we speak out against an issue that the Bible addresses.

Case in point.

Much of our culture’s narrative is moving towards a non-biblical view of gender ideology. From the beginning of creation, God made us male and female.  Today, culture is in a state of gender confusion. Men castrating themselves and getting sex-change operations so they can become, in their minds, a woman. Women having their breasts amputated and their vaginas surgically modified to look like a penis. All in an effort to make them think they are a man. This gender confusion has moved to where certain institutions are promoting “Gender-affirming care” to minors. Pubescent boys and girls confused about their sexually-awakening bodies get advice from certain professionals that irreversible hormone therapy is the best route forward. In some cases laws have been changed in certain jurisdictions to allow these changes despite the opposition of their parents. When a Jesus follower speaks out against such, they are quickly vilified.

“You can have your Jesus, just don’t tell me what God says about my body.”

3. Penalized. If a Jesus-follower doesn’t follow the new cultural narrative they are socially and politically ostracized. A professor who won’t sign the university’s gender-affirming care policy is fired. You are skipped over for a promotion at work because you won’t attend the ESG training. A political party will do all it can to prevent you from running for office because your views align with the Bible. You are pushed to the fringes of society.

In early 2022, Canadian truckers met in Ottawa, the nation’s capital to peacefully protest the government’s forced COVID vaccination. Not everyone there was Christian, but many were. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to meet with the Freedom Convoy leaders and instead enacted an emergency wars act forcing the Freedom Convoy out of Ottawa. He called the Freedom Convoy a “fringe minority”.

4. Criminalization of Beliefs. As mentioned, the current cultural narrative may not arrest you for believing in the core doctrine of Christianity, but if you speak out against their views on things like sexuality and abortion (both of which God has truth to say), you will be arrested and fined. In some cases, if a church, for example, does not agree with the government’s view and policies they could lose their tax-free status. 

Recently, a 16-year-old from Renfrew Ontario Canada was kicked out of a Catholic High School because he didn’t agree with the Catholic School Board’s policy of allowing transgender high school students to use the washroom of their preferred gender.  In May 2023, Josh Alexander was invited to Calgary to participate in a speak-out against transgenderism in that city. He was handing out Bibles on a street corner. Pro-transgender supporters physically assaulted him, threw his Bibles to the street, stomped on them, and set them on fire. The Calgary Police arrested Josh, but the transgender people who assaulted him were not. 

5. Overt Persecution. Outright, heavy-handed, blatant, and aggressive assault on anyone who claims to follow Jesus. In the summer of 2022, 68 churches in Canada were burned. In certain Middle-eastern countries, Christians are tortured and even beheaded. Check out Voice of the Martyrs

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3: 12-13

 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

From my backyard deck in my quiet suburban neighborhood, I can see some of these levels of persecution happening around me. There are parts of me that want to put my head in the sand and hope it goes away. That’s when I realize I’m becoming that Really Nice Guy we talked about in a previous post and not the Warrior God’s called Jesus-followers to become.

I’m not a rabble-rouser. I don’t go around looking for trouble, but I can no longer sit idly by when I see Jesus’ name and all He stands for being trashed and burned. 

Evil will get worse when it is left unchallenged. After Paul says what he did above to Timothy, he adds this.

 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 

All of which is why we lean on God’s Word as the basis for our faith.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Warrior On!

Mentoring Warriors Editor’s Note: This post touches on several controversial views currently held in our culture. There is a place and forum for open, healthy, respectful dialogue. It is never the intention of Mentoring Warriors to bash or enflame others who do not hold to a biblical worldview. Rather invite an open opportunity to look further into the claims of Jesus. Should you want to dialogue, email us at

The five levels of persecution were taken from a podcast by Aaron Rock. Refer to the link below.

For further coverage on the Josh Alexander incident in Calgary, refer to the link below.

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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