Remembering the Persecuted

Each year November is set aside as a month to remember and pray for persecuted Christians world-wide. This year, the eyes of the whole world look in horror on the savage butchery that the Islamic State is perpetrating on Syrian and Iraqi Christians. Crucifixions, beheadings, and all other imaginable and unimaginable atrocities are being carried out in the name of Allah and Mohammed.

This is not the first time. Throughout the history of Islam, many jihads have been carried out against Christians. In the last century several occurred including the Armenian Holocaust in 1915-18 which resulted on 1.5 million deaths. Over 750,000 Assyrian Christians were also martyred at that time. My own grandmother and aunt were saved only by the kindness of a Muslim neighbor who hid them in the women’s quarters until the soldiers left their village. The violence of Boko Haram in Nigeria, where thousands of Christians have been killed, many burned alive in their churches, is another example.

We must face that fact that while the majority of Muslims would never think of killing others in Allah’s name, a significant minority have no problem doing so. How then should we respond in the face of such unrestrained evil?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who resisted Hitler’s atrocities. Consequently, he was martyred by being stripped naked and hung with a piano wire while being held in a Gestapo prison. He wrote, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

First of all, we in America are compelled to speak out and advocate for the persecuted through social media and within our sphere of influence.

Then, we must pray for this evil to end. Only God can change the hearts of these persecutors. Pray also for the persecuted, that they will stay strong in their time of deadly trial and that they will be bold in their witness for Jesus.

Thirdly, we must doggedly and boldly put into practice the words of our Lord Jesus who said, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)

Finally, we must open our hands and our hearts to the persecuted. World Vision, World Relief, and the Convoy of Hope are three organizations which are coordinating their relief efforts with local pastors who have chosen to stay with their people rather than flee to safety elsewhere. Jesus said, ‘inasmuch as you have done this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me.’

It has been said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” What will you do to help end these atrocities? What sacrifice will you make to aid those who live in such great peril and such overwhelming need? Will you choose to face hatred with love, evil with good, and abuse with prayer?

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