Thursday, March 24, 2011
Remember My Chains
A few times on this site I have written about the plight of Christians in different parts of the world. There have been a few reports over the past few weeks, that have caught my attention, which have not been widely reported by the popular media. What is normally reported is what is referred to as "religious violence" between Christians and Muslims or Christians and Hindus, etc... Digging a little deeper, what this usually means is that Christians have been attacked by a group representing whatever the religious majority of the country or region involved.
This article is not designed to absolve the Christian church of all guilt; we are all familiar with the crusades and other shameful periods in church history. Suffice it to say that those who participated in these and other regrettable chapters over the centuries were actually acting against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, church leaders have gone to great lengths to try to make amends for these events, though they took place in the distant past. The full text of the apology issued to Muslims is given below. If you wish to read more on the "Reconciliation Walk," click on the link.
"Nine hundred years ago, our forefathers carried the name of Jesus Christ in battle across the Middle East. Fuelled by fear, greed and hatred, they betrayed the name of Christ by conducting themselves in a manner contrary to His wishes and character. The Crusaders lifted the banner of the Cross above your people. By this act, they corrupted its true meaning of reconciliation, forgiveness and selfless love.
"On the anniversary of the first Crusade, we also carry the name of Christ. We wish to retrace the footsteps of the Crusaders in apology for their deeds and in demonstration of the true meaning of the Cross. We deeply regret the atrocities committed in the name of Christ by our predecessors. We renounce greed, hatred and fear, and condemn all violence done in the name of Jesus Christ.
"Where they were motivated by hatred and prejudice, we offer love and brotherhood. Jesus the Messiah came to give life. Forgive us for allowing His name to be associated with death. Please accept again the true meaning of the Messiah's words:
"'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.' As we go, we bless you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."
I'm thankful that there are good things happening in the area of reconciliation, but what I'd like to do today is to draw our attention to the millions who are suffering for their Christian faith in the world today. According to estimates, there are an average of 171,000 people being martyred for their Christian faith every year. As I said earlier, rarely do we hear of these through normal news channels. Let me draw attention to a few of them.
March 24, 2011 - (Mauritania) A report was received from Mauritania that a Christian Pastor named Ahmadou Abu Bakr was murdered by Islamists. He left a wife and three children, now in hiding. He had been kidnapped sometime before. His bullet-riddled body was discovered on March 6. It was reported that he was the fourth Christian martyred in that region of Mauritania since 2009. There was no report of arrests made.
March 23, 2011 - (Pakistan) As Christians gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their Salvation Army church in Hyderabad, Pakistan, a group of young Muslims gathered nearby and began to harass young women who were making their way to the service. When some of the men came out to protect the women, some of the Islamists left and came back with weapons. They opened fire on the Christians, killing Younis Masih and Jameel Masih and seriously injuring two others. None of the identified attackers had been arrested by police. This comes on the heels of the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of government in Pakistan. Bhatti was an outspoken critic of the anti-blasphemy law, used by Muslims to imprison Christians and other minorities. A Christian imprisoned for blasphemy also recently died in prison after being regularly beaten.
March 23, 2011 - (Iraq) A report by Sarah MacDonald tells us that conditions for Christians in Iraq are so critical it's been described as "near-genocidal." Since 2003 more than 500 Christians have been murdered. Islamic activists have targeted Christians in an effort to purge the country of a Christian community dating back almost 2,000 years. The increasing pressure on Christians has caused many to flee the country, bringing the estimated Christian population from about 1.3 million in 1991 to about 500,000 today.
March 23, 2011 - (China) ChinaAID reports that yet another Chinese house church was raided on March 13, 2011. 12 Christians were arrested, 2 of whom still remain in detention. They are Weng and Zhang Yongkuan. Police confiscated all Bibles and other books. Thousands of Christians remain in prison or in "re-education camps" in China. Many disappear, never to be heard from again.
March 22, 2011 - (Nigeria) The Stefanos Foundation, an organization established to support the persecuted church in Nigeria, reports an attempted bombing of a church on Sunday, March 20, 2011. The timer on the bomb apparently malfunctioned and it blew up prematurely, killing two attempted Islamic terrorists. Earlier that day, three Christians had been murdered at Duala Junction and six other Christians were being treated in hospital for stab wounds. Muslim elders in the region declared a jihad (holy war)on Christians on December 28, 2010, stating their intentions to cause such mayhem that the government would be forced to declare a state of emergency.
As you can see, these are all reports from within a less than one-week period. The following video on behalf of Christian martyrs was prepared by Voice of the Martys Canada. Please pray for Christians around the world who are suffering for their faith.
Items of Interest;
Shahbaz Bhatti - Christian Martyr
Modern-Day Martyrs in Turkey - A Reprise
Modern-day Martyrs in Turkey