Evangelist Franklin Graham warns that Christians in the United States are not far from seeing a high level of violent persecution because of their faith.
Capitol Hill leaders are heeding that message by moving to protect religious freedom.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) along with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have introduced a resolution that would condemn persecution based on faith and promote religious freedom. It also encourages President Trump to nominate an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom within the State Department.
Lankford announced the proposal during this week's World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington D.C.
More than 600 people gathered from 130 countries to hear from those who have endured brutal persecution for their faith.
Graham headed the event and addressed the growing crisis.
"I spent time this week with two men whose brothers were among the Coptic Christians marched out on the beach in Libya and viciously beheaded by ISIS for refusing to deny Christ—then the video published for all the world to see," he recounted. "Someone from Mexico who was repeatedly beaten, their church burned, and the people from the church made to leave at gunpoint and walk over broken glass, barefoot as they left the city. The stories go on and on."
"We may think that in the United States we are far removed from such persecution, but we are not. We have a responsibility to pray for those enduring suffering because they carry the name of Christ," Graham said.
Graham called Christians to make the following pledge during the summit's final session on Saturday:
• To promote awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide and to help them in their time of need.
• To pray unceasingly, urging other believers throughout the world to pray for those being persecuted, that the whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless.
• To provide practical assistance, whenever possible, to the persecuted church.
• To work with individuals, organizations and government agencies, encouraging them to act as advocates on behalf of the persecuted because of their faith in Christ Jesus.
• To follow the biblical mandate to comfort and edify one another so that we exemplify Christ's love and transforming power, even in the midst of hardship.
• To strengthen the worldwide witness of the church around the world through biblical proclamation-evangelism, and to do so boldly, unapologetically and without compromise.
The president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse also reinforced the need for global leaders to work together and tackle the issue.
Graham and the Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church issued a joint statement stressing "the importance of Russia and the United States setting aside their differences and working together to combat terrorism and protect Christians who are actively suffering persecution, especially in the Middle East and North and Central Africa."
"The Bible commands us to pray for all those who are in authority," Graham said. "I ask Christians to pray that God will give President Trump and President Putin wisdom and a commitment to peace as they meet. With unprecedented numbers of Christians around the world facing torture, imprisonment, and death, if ever there was a time that we need to obey this command to pray, it is now."