On September 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 2 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. As we’ve said on BreakPoint, 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.”
Kirsten Powers of the Daily Beast has had enough of what she calls the “deafening silence” on this issue, especially from American Christians. The lead to her recent column reads like an indictment: “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. Not so.”
In addition to the Peshawar attack, she points to 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.”
She introduces readers to an ominous Jihadist slogan: “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 Hebrews 13 tells us, we are to remember “those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body.”
That’s one reason I’m so 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, 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?
So before I sign off, I’d like to invite you to listen to the “National Briefing on Religious Liberty” sponsored by the Colson Center. I was privileged to be a part of this important discussion with Dr. Timothy George, the Acton Institute’s Fr. Robert Sirico, the Manhattan Declaration’s Eric Teetsel and the Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall.
Please, be sure to listen to this National Briefing on Religious Liberty. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to it. And we’ll tell you about organizations working on behalf of persecuted Christians, so you can employ your religious freedom on their behalf.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: October 4, 2013