The second-ever March for the Martyrs took place Saturday, September 25th. Hundreds of people rallied on the National Mall to stand with persecuted Christians around the world.
At the Kick-Off Rally, participants worshiped together within sight of the Capitol Building and heard from speakers Gia Chacón, Jacob Coyne and Allie Beth Stuckey:
In her opening remarks, Gia Chacón, founder of March for the Martyrs, said, “We’re marching for the over 340 million Christians around the world who suffer for the name of Jesus. We’re marching for the people who lay down their lives every single day to go to church, to own a Bible.”
“While we still have [religious freedoms], even if we do feel like they’re under attack, we have to take advantage of them,” said Allie Beth Stuckey during her keynote. “We have to use them to the glory of God, we have to use them boldly and courageously to speak up for people who don’t even know what the concept of a right is.”
Before the March for the Martyrs, speakers — Fr. Benedict Kiely, Pastor David Engelhardt, Shane Winnings, Kangmin Lee, Sean Feucht — led the crowd in prayer for their persecuted brothers and sisters:
Fr. Benedict Kiely said, “When ISIS and Islamic Fundamentalists come for you, they do not ask if you are a Catholic, or an Orthodox, or a Protestant — they ask you: Do you believe in the Name of Jesus?”
“What if we march with such obnoxious joy? The persecuted Church are the most joyful people you will ever meet,” said Sean Feucht.
March for the Martyrs
Leaving the National Mall, the crowd marched down Constitution Avenue and up 17th Street. Many participants carried flags and signs that read “End Christian Persecution,” “Stand with Christ,” or “The Blood of the Martyrs is the Seed of the Church.”
An article with the Christian Post captured some comments from March for the Martyrs participants:
“Samantha from California attended the first March for the Martyrs in Long Beach last year. She returned for the second march this year ‘in support of all Christians everywhere who are persecuted, who risk their lives every day to practice their faith.’”
Rachel Hartley told the Christian Post, “We actually were just out for a walk, didn’t know about this. We’re Christians, we go to church on Capitol Hill and we’re excited to see what was going on. Our church every week has been praying for the persecuted Church across the world. So we just jumped at this opportunity to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ and join in the march.”
Kiana said, “What a powerful experience being part of this March for the first time.”
The March paused just outside the White House, where March for the Martyrs speakers, Shane Winnings and Jacob Coyne, led participants in prayer for persecuted Christians and religious freedom. After the prayer, the March resumed, ending at the JW Marriott.
Night for the Martyrs
After the March, the Night for the Martyrs commenced, featuring a full line-up of speakers and panelists who focused on Christian persecution in China, the Middle East, and the West.
For the Martyrs founding president, Gia Chacón and Dr. David Curry, president and CEO of OpenDoors USA, opened the evening conference with an interview focused on OpenDoors USA’s World Watch List:
“Ultimately, we’re not standing here to tell you that we’re going to stop persecution. There’s one way we could stop it, and that is if we all just stopped talking about Jesus, right? It would all just go away. But nobody here is willing to do that,” said Dr. Curry. “We want to talk about Jesus, we’re going to continue to face oppression and persecution for it. We want to stand together and speak out on behalf of these people.”
“If we’re going to see a revival of the courage and the heart of the American church, it has to start with you and I,” said Dr. David Curry in his following keynote address. “We have to have this insurgent, resilient mindset that the persecuted Church has.”
Ambassador Sam Brownback, the former ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom, and Kelsey Zorzi, from Alliance Defending Freedom, each delivered messages:
“What you’re doing — standing up for the people that are martyred around the world in our day and age — is incredibly important” said Ambassador Brownback. “People need to know this is taking place, that there are more Christian martyrs in our times than in any time in global history.”
“As we march together in this movement, we remember all those who have suffered for their faith,” said Zorzi. “It is our duty to honor them by our ceaseless prayers and our ceaseless cries for justice — cries that must be heard and reckoned with to the ends of the Earth.”
Focusing on China, Dr. Bob Fu, the president and founder of ChinaAid, related his first hand experiences with the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Christians:
“Has the Church been defeated? Has the Church been discouraged? Is the Church and God’s people losing? As Pastor David, Fr. Benedict and Allie said during the Rally: No. How can anyone — any political party, any institution, any government — defeat the church of the living God?”
Reverend Johnnie Moore, a former commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, spoke about his encounters with persecuted Christians in the Middle East:
“We must fight for these people. We must advocate for them like never before. And what you did today in this city — don’t underestimate what happened in this city today, don’t underestimate the significance of gathering together in this room, in this city, at this time right now.”
Reverend Johnnie Moore joined Sarah Bassil with In Defense of Christians and Fr. Benedict Kiely, founder of Nasarean.org for a panel interview about the complexities of the Middle East and Christian persecution. Following the panel, Fr. Benedict Kiely called Christians in the West to act:
“Rise up and witness that love conquers death. Rise up and witness,” said Fr. Benedict They have witnessed to the end. If we are faithful, we will not be ignorant and we will not be indifferent. We will honor the martyrs by being witnesses and martyrs ourselves.”
Pastor David Engelhardt spoke on the definition of persecution and the “obligation for the believer to raise his and her voice on behalf of Christians being persecuted both in the United States of America and abroad.”
Following Pastor Engelhardt, Arielle Del Turco, from the Family Research Council, and Ryan Helfenbein, from Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center, both delivered messages:
“Many persecuted believers just want to know that they are remembered and that people are praying for them. It’s encouraging to be in this room where people are doing exactly that,” said Del Turco. “This is why we’re here today: Because no one anywhere should be intimidated, harassed, imprisoned or killed for their faith. And we won’t be silent in the face of these injustices.”
“If we cannot defend religious liberty at home, in the United States, there’s very little chance that we can do it abroad,” said Ryan Helfenbein. “Let’s be committed together.”
Dr. Michelle Corral, founder of Breath of the Spirit Ministries, called on participants and viewers to “sacrifice for one another. You see, sacrifice is what’s going to add fuel to the fire. It’s going to say to our brothers and sisters ‘I’m standing with you.’”
Giving the final keynote address, Sean Feucht, founder of Let us Worship, called Christians in the West to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians by acting boldly and without compromise:
“By our action, by our public witness to truth and by our steadfast love for Christ and his church, we say to our brothers and sisters around the world, in Afghanistan and everywhere else, we are one with you.”
Following his keynote, Sean Feucht and Radiant Worship closed the Night for the Martyrs with worship.
We are so thankful for our speakers, sponsors, volunteers and all who participated in and made March for the Martyrs possible. Night for the Martyrs had viewers from around the world. Fr. Deus, a Roman Catholic priest, said, “I watched the March for the Martyrs from Uganda; it was beautiful. Thank you for this wonderful mission.”