October 18, 2013
Last night we had dinner with a Syrian pastor. This man lives and serves full-time in Syria. He hasn’t left the country because of the war, and he’s experienced the full effects of the war, personally and through his congregation.
One of the effects of the war that he’s lamenting deeply is the destruction of historic Christian churches and other sites. He told me that one mosque is host to an ancient New Testament manuscript. They’ve preserved it for years, but with the rebels’ animosity toward all things Christian, he’s afraid that manuscript will soon be lost. UNESCO has also expressed concern over the state of various World Heritage Sites throughout Syria, including many historic churches.
Christianity has a more-than-2,000-year history in Syria, going back to the time of Christ. But as this pastor expressed, the Islamist fighters, and Islam in general, seem to have an agenda to erase that history from memory. They want Syria to be remembered only as a Muslim nation, and they intend to drive out all Christians from Syria.
After the rebels destroyed a Christian village recently, they ransacked homes and then posted a sign at the entrance of the village. Beneath the sign, they placed one of the Bibles discovered in the village. The sign read, “The Bible is the biggest threat to our cause.”
This strategy of ridding the region of Christians isn’t limited to Syria. Muslim extremists in Egypt are pursuing a similar approach. Egypt also has a long tradition of Christianity – something the world seems to have forgotten. Alexandria was once one of the great centers of Christian teaching and culture which produced one of Christianity’s great thinkers, St. Augustine. But today in Egypt, Muslims are systematically driving the ancient Christian population out – attacking Christian villages, Christian homes and churches.
According to my Syrian friend and many of The Voice of the Martyrs contacts living in these countries, this agenda is at the core of Islam.
In a method of applying this agenda that hits closer to home, another worker in one of the hostile nations where VOM works told us she sees Muslims literally trying to change history—online. Muslims are logging on to Wikipedia, the user-edited web encyclopedia, and rewriting entries for basic historical concepts, such as who developed the first hospitals and which thinkers came up with the scientific method.
Do we notice? Do we as Christians have the necessary understanding of the details of history to prevent this from happening? The VOM worker I spoke with spent four days of intense research in order to rewrite one of the critical entries. She believes this is important because Wikipedia will influence a new generation. But she cautioned that it had to be done in a thoughtful, intelligent and unbiased way.
I write about this hidden plan not to make us fear, but to make us aware. The only real solution to this creeping Islamic agenda is to bring Christ into the heart of each person who subscribes to this philosophy. Our greatest calling is to share the gospel, but in the meantime we also need to speak up against the destruction of Christianity in Syria and Egypt and be wise enough to share the facts of history in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).
Dory P. has worked with VOM for six years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband and two-year-old son, they share five passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.