Chuck Colson has some interesting and eye-opening figures on the holocaust of Christians in the twentieth century. The article itself is dated 2002. The estimate is that 45,000,000 Christians have been martyred in the twentieth century. According to the same estimate, the total number of Christians martyred since the time of Christ is around 70,000,000.
I want to point out a couple of things. Firstly, such numbers, as Colson points out, do not diminish the horror of the Holocaust in the least. However, Jews should not think that they are the only ones who have been persecuted in the twentieth century. Christians have lost more than 7 times as many lives as the Jews lost in the Holocaust. Not a fact that you will hear much about in the news (nor do I particularly want it to be reported. It is not as if Christians need to brag about being persecuted).
The other thing I wish to point out is that Colson’s conclusion is not how we should pray for the church. Indeed, the Chinese church has told us differently. Why should we pray that persecution should be eliminated against the church, when persecution is something we are told that we should expect? Not only that, but persecution is good for the church, eliminating nominalist “Christians.” I am not saying that persecution is a good thing, in and of itself. I am very thankful that I am not being persecuted for my faith. However, God overturns evil for good constantly, as He has been doing all throughout history. I am raising the point only to encourage us to pray for the persecuted church. And this is how we should pray: that the church remain faithful in its witness, not compromising the truth of the Gospel for comfort’s sake.