No. Back in February.
In Buena Vista, New Jersey.
Granted, the Christians were recent immigrants…after all, most of the violence is confined to Egypt–isn’t it?
Except–since January, there have been killings in these African countries, too: Algeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Tanzania. At ChristianPersecution.info, you can find 19 articles since April of this year about persecution against African Christians.
Meanwhile, a daily Christian news service reports that
“Incidents of Christian persecution in China rose by 42 percent last year as compared with 2011, according to a report by China Aid, a Texas-based human rights group.”
On August 14, a protest was held outside the Pakistan Consulate in New York City. Banners read: “Pakistan is a Living Hell for Hindus, Sikhs and Christians.”
And that’s not even close to all the incidents of murder, rape, vandalism and other violent acts perpetrated against believers worldwide.
Last year at this time, I learned that attacks–by Muslims alone–against Christians, had killed 600 people and injured 800 in 20 countries, from January through July of 2012.
And I’m willing to bet that most of you, like me, hadn’t heard about any of it–unless you read it at Persecution.com (Voice of the Martyrs) or in World Magazine, or some other similar conservative Christian publication. (And if you don’t read either of those, you should!)
What can we who live (mostly) on the other side of the world DO about this?
- Obviously, we can pray.
- We can send money and other aid when it seems safe and appropriate to do so (i.e., when doing so will not further jeopardize believers).
- We can do our best to inform our own communities–church, workplace, neighborhood, family–of what is going on, since chances are good that none of them will have heard this, either.
And one more thing.
We can stop being shocked.
Why are we so surprised that these atrocities continue? Do we really think that somehow humankind should have evolved beyond this kind of vicious, hateful conduct? (Did we not pay any attention to the Rwandan genocide in 1994? Or the one in Bosnia in 1995? Do we not read the daily news?)
And as Christians, do we not believe the Word of God when it promises, in describing the Last Days, that
“…evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. ” (2 Timothy 3:13 ESV)
Even more to the point is the verse just before that:
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV)
If we haven’t personally experienced persecution, we may yet. And I’m not even sure that we should count ourselves lucky to avoid it. After all, Jesus Himself told His disciples:
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” (Luke 6:22 ESV)
And the apostle Paul, who certainly suffered his share of beatings, stoning, and imprisonment, had this to say:
Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. (Philippians 1:28-30 NLT)
And finally, James (the Lord’s brother) wrote:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
SO–brothers and sisters, this is my word to you today:
Be in prayer.
And be unafraid.
(Jesus said) “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)