There was a time when Christians would complain that we were ignored or misrepresented by mainstream media. That is no longer entirely true. The events in this world are so explicitly clear regarding the persecution of Christians that it is nearly impossible to ignore it, mainstream or backwater media. The idea, I suppose, was that in the past Christianity was so dominant in our culture that it was getting a lot of attention and now it is time to turn our attention to other religions, cults, and bizarre organizations in order to be equitable. But world events have not cooperated with this new attitude and mainstream media is forced to report the targeting of Christians for violence in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, it is taking radical acts of violence against Christians to get Christianity back into the news.
One has heard the rantings of the leader of Boko Haram against Christians (he said that Christians should know that Jesus is not God and that they were trying to coerce Christians to embrace Islam) and even that has taken second place to the new and more demonic threat of ISIS. A recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Exterminating Christians in the Middle East” states that ISIS is targeting Christians just because they are Christians. The writer, Robert R. Reilly who directs the Westminster Institute in McLean, Virginia, notes that ISIS is placing the Arabic letter “N” (meaning Nazarene or the follower of the Nazarene) on the homes of Christians with the intention of wiping the earth clean of Christians. The goal is genocide. They are not hiding the fact. It is being explicitly stated.
An article on the website of the American Center for Law and Justice titled “The Systematic Killing of Christians Continues” by Edward White reports:
“With growing frequency we are seeing the persecution and mass murder of Christians in Africa and the Middle East by radical Muslims, in particular, ISIS and Boko Haram, who are aligned. Christians who refuse to convert to Islam or pay a special tax (jizya) and acknowledge their subjugation to Muslims are being beheaded, crucified, shot, and burned alive. Female Christians are being raped, forced to convert to Islam, and placed into slavery. Christian Churches are being burned to the ground.”
This is hard to ignore, and fortunately it is not being ignored. Christians by the hundreds of thousands have fled their homes and are now refugees, along with many who are not Christians. Many have been killed or are living in desperate situations—men, women, and children.
How are people responding? One front line worker who serves the persecuted Christians in the Middle East is seeing the gospel spread, and people who are not Christians but still subject to the violence, coming to Christ among the Syrian and Iraqi refugees (read story). VOM is seeking to meet the needs of these refugees by helping to provide for the basic needs of people who left their homes with nothing, fleeing from the ravages of merciless invaders.
Thank you for those who have helped to make these resources possible.
Roy Stults, PhD, is the Online Workshop Coordinator and Educational Services Coordinator for The Voice of the Martyrs. He graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (BA and MA), Nazarene Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Doctor of Missiology), and The University of Manchester (England) with a PhD (theology). A Vietnam veteran, Dr. Stults served as a missionary for 19 years and pastored U.S. churches for eight years. Prior to joining VOM, he was a Professor of Religion at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.