Raising Up A Standard

We expect non-believers not to be too worried about the ongoing persecution of Christians around the world. Indeed, some of them may in fact take some delight in this. But what is a real worry is the fact that so many Western Christians don’t seem to give a rip about this as well.


Every day Christians are being persecuted, tortured and put to death around the planet, yet we Western Christians act as if they don’t even exist. We don’t seem to care, and we don’t even seem to want to know about this. But we had better care, and we had better take some notice about this.


Jesus made it clear that what we did to the suffering brethren we do to him. We have an obligation to be aware of what is happening and at least pray. But much more can be done. However the first step is to snap out of our ignorance and apathy.


There are plenty of groups which report on the suffering church, such as Barnabas Fund and Open Doors. And there are plenty of examples taking place right now of horrendous persecution of Christians. Let me just focus on one such example, quoting from a recent article:


“Radical Muslims in Africa’s Ivory Coast are perpetrating a massacre on Christians while the Obama administration stands by and does nothing, Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports. Now, Ivory Coast President-elect Alassane Ouattara’s largely Muslim forces have kept Christian Laurent Gbagbo, the current president, in his Abidjan residence under siege.


In retaliation, Gbagbo forces launched two mortars and a rocket at the residence of the French ambassador and French helicopter gunships responded by attacking Gbagbo forces. In its most recent report, Human Rights Watch documented that forces loyal to Ouattara killed hundreds of civilians and raped more than 20 alleged Gbagbo supporters as they burned at least 10 villages in the Ivory Coast’s western region.


“‘People interviewed by Human Rights Watch described how, in village after village, pro-Ouattara forces, now called the Republican forces of Côte d’Ivorie (Forces Républicaines Côte d’Ivorie, FRCI) summarily executed and raped Gbagbo supporters in their homes, as they worked in the fields, as they fled, or as they tried to hide in the bush,’ the report noted. ‘The fighters often targeted people by ethnicity, and the attacks disproportionately affected those too old or feeble to flee’.


“Reports from the Ivory Coast published by the London Evening Standard indicated that more than 200 bodies, some of them burned alive, have been found in the country. The newspaper reported the concern of the International Rescue Committee that even if the military showdown in Abidjan were to end, the looting, hostility, bloodshed, reprisal killings and sexual assaults will continue to escalate in communities across the country.


“‘The silence of the Obama administration on the violence in the Ivory Coast makes hypocritical the president’s declaration in his May 28 speech on Libya that U.S. military action there was necessary to prevent a massacre by Gadhafi that “would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world”,’ Corsi wrote.


“‘The truth is that Obama, like the French and the U.N., support the radical Muslims that have taken over the “rebel forces” in Libya, just as Obama, the French and the U.N. support the Muslims in the Ivory Coast trying to remove from power the current Christian president, even if the Muslim supporters of Ouattara engage in massacres and mass rape against Christians’.”


This is just one example of the horrible atrocities taking place, but so few believers actually know about it or are seeking to do anything about it. Indeed, the silence of Christians has been deafening. And you know things are getting out of hand when in fact non-Christians have to speak up for these persecuted Christians.


Jewish commentator Dennis Praeger is one such voice, putting Christians to shame, as he tells the truth while so many of us remain silent. His newest column is entitled, “Why Don’t Christians Help … Christians?” It is a very good question indeed. Here is what he has to say, in part:


“In the Muslim world, Christians are being murdered, churches are being torched, entire ancient Christian communities – the Iraqi and Palestinian, for example – are disappearing. And, again, 2 billion Christians react with silence. There are some Christian groups active on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. They do important work, and are often the primary source of information on persecuted Christians. But they would be the first to acknowledge that the Christian world is overwhelmingly silent when it comes to the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world.


“This is true despite the fact that the most powerful Christian in the world, Pope Benedict XVI, has not been silent. For example, on Jan. 10, in his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, he spoke of ‘the Christian communities in (the Middle East) which suffer greatly because of their fidelity to Christ and the Church … the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq.’ He appealed directly to the Muslim world: ‘To the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security’.”


Praeger concludes, “But aside from the pope and some activist groups, the Christian world is as silent today as it was when Christians were imprisoned and killed in the Soviet Union. It is time to change this pattern. Christians should organize an international day or week of solidarity for persecuted Christians in the Muslim world. And not only Christians should attend these hopefully large events. Jews and Muslims should also be in attendance, and their representatives should speak. Jews should because it is right and because of all Christians did for Soviet Jewry and do for Israel; and Muslims should because it is right and because nothing would protect the good name of Muslims like joining non-Muslims in voicing solidarity with the many Christian victims of persecution in Muslim countries.”


Exactly right. Jesus said the very stones would speak out if his own followers would not. Thus he is raising up even Jewish voices to defend persecuted Christians. So when will we Christians start speaking up?


By Bill Muehlenberg

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