It seems every week brings a new, horrific attack against Christians overseas.
Having lived overseas for several years, I cannot help but feel for our Christian brothers and sisters worldwide.
On Sept. 22, suicide bombers connected to the Pakistani Taliban entered All Souls Anglican Church in Peshawar during services. The resulting explosion killed 78 men, women and children. It was only the most recent attack on Pakistani Christians, who make up just two percent of the country’s population.
Apparently, even that tiny percentage is too high for some there. What’s happening in Pakistan is, in turn, part of a larger global pattern. Christians around the world are often “harassed, arrested, jailed, tortured, raped, beaten, and killed.”
Christian “churches and homes are bombed or burned to the ground.” Children are even “taken from their Christian parents lest they become too tainted with faith in Jesus.”
Yet, the vast majority of Americans, and American Christians, would be surprised to hear we’re living in what’s been called “the age of martyrs.” What’s hard to understand is the “deafening silence” on this issue, especially from American Christians.
Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. But, it is not.
In addition to the Peshawar attack, the recent attack in Nairobi, in which, according to eyewitnesses, the gunmen said “if you are Muslim you are on the safer side, but if you are Hindu or Christian you will be killed.”
There is an ominous Jihadist slogan that goes like this: “First comes Saturday, then comes Sunday.” It means “On Saturday we kill the Jews; on Sunday we kill the Christians.”
This is the world in which millions of Christians live. Now the good news is there’s evidence of a growing appreciation for our brethren’s plight. For instance, many American Christians opposed intervention in Syria out of concern for the possible impact on Syrian Christians.
The better news is that if we insist on keeping the issue of the persecuted church on the front burner, it can yield results.
A case in point is a recent phone call between President Obama and Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani. During the call, the President expressed his concern over the jailing of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini.
Abedini’s incarceration has been the subject of an international campaign to draw attention to his plight and secure his release. Abedini’s wife rightly called Obama’s raising of the issue an “answer to prayer.” It’s also a response to concerted efforts to ensure that her husband is not forgotten.
This is the kind of effort we must make on behalf of all our persecuted brethren. As Hebrews13 tells us, we are to remember “those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body.”
That’s one reason we must be concerned about preserving religious liberty here in America. While we’re not at the point of shedding blood, Christians in this country are under enormous pressure — from government, from activist groups like the ACLU, and increasingly, from a judge’s bench — to compromise our faith. And, if the freedom to speak out is lost here, who will be left to advocate on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world?
Do you appreciate the religious freedom our country has enjoyed for over two centuries? Then use it! Attend church this weekend.