[Editor’s Note: Gia Chacon founded For the Martyrs after working with refugees and hearing their stories. She has published and been featured in news articles, on television and radio shows. In addition to founding For the Martyrs, Gia Chacon is a humanitarian, speaker and the current Pro-Life Director of Bienvenido US. She first began her volunteer humanitarian efforts in 2017 and has since traveled to Central America, East Africa, and as far as the Middle East. She is also active on Twitter. She spoke to Charles Camosy.]

Camosy: How did you become interested in Christian persecution in the first place?

Chacon: I was raised in a very devout Christian household and always desired to have a relationship with Christ. As time went on, I tried to balance having one foot in my faith and one foot in the world. The foot that was in the world quickly became a ball and chain, that lulled me deeper into heartache and compromise. In 2017, a series of events led me to quit my job and during that time, I cried out to God to make me new and to lead me and guide me. I called my grandmother Dr. Michelle Corral, who is an international humanitarian and founder of Breath of the Spirit Ministries, and asked her if she had any mission trips coming up that I could join. In my mind, I would just be getting away for a few days to figure out my next step, but God had other plans.

I accompanied my grandmother and her team to Egypt and while I was there, I experienced the faith of the persecuted Church for the first time in my life. I had no idea that Christians were persecuted for their faith, prior to that experience. Being able to speak with young people who were willing to risk everything for the sake of Christ, resonated so deeply with me and caused me to fully give my life to the service of Christ. Throughout the years since, I have had the privilege of working with Iraqi and Syrian refugees and traveled to Egypt many times. Being able to gain firsthand insight into the atrocities that Christians suffer for their faith changed my perspective, caused me to do extensive research into the religious oppression of Christians, and caused me to get actively involved.

You ended up founding an organization called “For the Martyrs.” Why did you start that organization and can you tell me more about the work you do? 

Taking the experiences of the persecuted Church with me, coming home and having conversations with family, friends, and others in my community, I realized that not only is the issue of Christian persecution widely ignored by the media, it is often untalked about and completely unknown within communities of faith in the West. This inspired me to found For the Martyrs, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the crisis of Christian persecution around the world, advocate for religious freedom, and provide aid to suffering Christians across the globe.

Last week you organized a “March for the Martyrs” in Long Beach, California. What was this event? Why did you organize it?

I was inspired to host a March for the Martyrs to bring much needed awareness to the crisis of Christian Persecution and to unify the Body of Christ around this issue. For the first time in United States history, hundreds of people across all denominations of Christianity gathered together to raise awareness to the crisis of Christian persecution around the world and to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Church. As we marched through downtown Long Beach during the first-ever March for the Martyrs, our message was clear: Christian persecution will not be ignored and suffering believers are not and will not be forgotten.

It is so critical that we speak up for the persecuted Church, that we all come together in solidarity with the persecuted Church, and take a powerful stand against the religious oppression of Christians. But, the March didn’t end with the March, we will continue to stand and speak up, and we will continue to March for the Martyrs everyday – and bring the crisis of Christian persecution to the forefront of the fight for the human rights of all.

What do you want people to know about the persecution of Christians around the world? And why is this battle to protect the faithful more critical than ever?

Christian persecution has risen by 20 percent in just 2 years. One-third of the world faces religious oppression and overwhelming 80 percent of the oppressed are Christian.

This issue is one of the most ignored human rights crises in the world and the persecuted need the voice and platform of Christians in the West to be their advocates.

Throughout all my travels, anytime I have spoken to someone who has faced persecution for their faith in Christ, when you ask them what they need most they will almost always ask you to pray for them. Secondly, they will always thank you for remembering their suffering. So, it is so important that we as Christians in the West are praying for and advocating for our brothers and sisters that face persecution around the world.

We often think about serious Christian persecution – at least the kind which involves direct attacks on people and infrastructure – taking place outside of the developed West. But in recent weeks and months we’ve seen protestors and rioters target Christian churches and statues. What, if anything, does this signal about persecution of Christians closer to home?

The recent attacks on Christian churches and property are not to be taken lightly. I would encourage Christians of the West to stand firm against the intimidation we are facing now, before it continues to worsen. As much as the persecuted Church needs the voice and platform of Christians in the United States, we need the strength and courage of the persecuted. Standing with the persecuted church gives us the strength we need to stand up against the intimidation we are facing in our own countries.