At its semiannual meeting on March 5, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) expressed collective grief and profound concern for the suffering of Christians around the world. “Our brothers and sisters in Christ are being persecuted, uprooted from their ancestral homes, and even martyred because of their faith,” the motion states.

“Christians have become the most persecuted people of faith in today’s world,” NAE President Leith Anderson said. “From almost every nation in the world we hear reports of those who are threatened and injured because they are followers of Jesus. The most frequent persecution news is the brutality in the Middle East and Africa.”

The motion calls on evangelicals to “engage in sustained prayer for those whose lives are threatened and especially for the family members of the martyrs who have been brutally killed” and to “give generously toward the needs of refugees and for the rebuilding of shattered communities.”

The NAE board also addressed the responsibility of government leaders in protecting religious minorities, saying, “We pray that our leaders will have wisdom and courage in fashioning an effective response. We implore our government to work with other governments to restore justice and rule of law, and to uphold the fundamental human rights of all people, especially persecuted religious minorities.”

The motion concludes, “At a time when terror and violence are wreaking havoc in so many parts of our world, we remember that Jesus also endured persecution and violence on our behalf. Through his suffering, death and resurrection he opened the way to life for all humankind. May the faithful witness of the martyrs ‘of whom the world is not worthy’ (Hebrews 11:38) draw many to put their faith in Christ, our only hope.”

Anderson said, “Our hearts break for persecuted Christians who are suffering and dying because of their faith. Our hearts are blessed by persecuted Christians who are faithful to Jesus Christ when facing threats and martyrdom.”

The NAE has passed two resolutions on worldwide religious persecution — one in 1996 and another in 2002. In May 2014, NAE leaders joined with many other American Christian leaders in a pledge of solidarity and call to action for religious freedom in the Middle East.