The headline from The Telegraph was ominous, appearing just days before Christmas–“Christianity Close to Extinction in the Middle East.” It told a story of Christianity being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands.” It made three key points that Western Christians need to wake up to.
- Christianity suffers greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.
- Politicians have been blind to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
- The most common (but certainly not the only) threat to Christans abroad is militant Islam. It said that oppression in Muslim lands is often ignored by the Western press because of fear that criticism will be seen as racism.
The Wall Street Journal on Dec 22 struck a similar tone in its article–“The Most Persecuted Religion.” It noted that Christians are targeted by independent groups or governments in some 131 of the 191 countries in the world.”
Christmas is a Risky Time to be a Christian
But Christmas is a particularly risky time to be a Christian in many lands. Over the last few years I have written about Christmas eve church bombings, shootings during worship services, etc..
Here are a few links to stories from the persecuted church this Christmas.
Nigerian Christians Recover from Christmas Eve Attacks
Gunmen Kills At Least Twelve Christians At Church Services in Northern Nigeria\
Christians Leave Churches Empty in Nigeria
Christians in Nigeria Brace for Attacks by Boko Haram
Rotten Egg Attack Mars Indonesia Christmas Celebration
Christmas in Indonesia a Matter of Faith and Security
Indonesian Police Join Muslim’s to Protect Christian Churches on Christmas Eve
Indonesian Police Heighten Security at Nearly 40,000 Churches Ahead of Possible Christmas Attacks
Black Christmas faces Syria Christians
I could cite many more examples from North Korea, Mongolia, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.
It’s just a reminder that we live in a great age of Christian persecution. Herod’s many descendents are still active at Christmas time. We cannot afford to be naïve or silent about what is happening to brothers and sisters around the world.
What you can do for the persecuted church?
There are three things we can do from far away.
First, be informed: check on the web sites of International Christian Concern (ICC) (www.persecution.org), Open Doors, or Voice of the Martyrs.
Second, be vocal: speak up for the church. Ask your church to highlight the persecuted church. Be an advocate for the suffering church. ICC has many helpful resources on this.
Third, be prayerful: we can help others by our prayers. 2 Cor. 1.11, says “You also must help us by prayers” and speaks of “the blessings granted us through the prayers of many.” Their prayers helped Paul in affliction and opposition. Our prayers matter too.