According to Christianity Today, “An average of 159,960 Christians worldwide are martyred for theirfaith per year.”
Author Toby Westerman adds:
- A silent holocaust of Christian martyrs is taking place around the world. While individual instances of murder and mayhem are sometimes reported, the general pattern of violence is ignored by the media, the United Nations, and most national governments. The perpetrators belong primarily to one of two groups: fundamentalist Islamists or Communist-controlled governments.
Westerman lists some examples of this holocaust from 2009 and before:
- The burning of several Catholic Churches in Malaysia, the deaths of Coptic Christians shot following midnight Mass outside their church, police raids in Saudi Arabia against private prayer groups, all testify to the type of "toleration" employed by Muslim fundamentalists.
- In Egypt, allegations that a Christian man raped a Muslim woman resulted in the murder of seven Coptic Christians and an attempt to kill the area's Coptic bishop. The deadly assault took place about 60 miles from the ancient temple site of Luxor, a popular tourist attraction.
- In Saudi Arabia, a nation where no Christian church is allowed, the country's religious police are ever on the alert for non-Muslim religious activity, including private expressions of prayer. Private group Bible readings and praying run afoul of strict religious edicts. Even Filipino guest workers, who perform menial tasks for wealthy Saudi families, are in danger if they attempt to pray as they did in their homeland.
- While instances of Muslim persecution of Christian believers are documented from Nigeria to Indonesia, no where is Christian martyrdom more tragic and ironic than in post-Saddam Iraq. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 the Christian population was estimated at about one million. Unfortunately for Christians, the post-Saddam era gave the Muslim majority a taste of democratic rule without the American provisions of a popularly accepted version of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Unrelenting attacks on Iraqi Christians have caused between 400,000 and 500,000 Iraqi Christians to flee Iraq, and many of those remaining are internal refugees - displaced citizens in their own nation, fearful of returning to their homes.
And now the Western media are ignoring the fact that the “Free Syrian Army” are killing Christians in Syria. Oppression in Communist nations is equally egregious. Westerman also indicts the media:
- It is time for the U.S. mass media to acknowledge the persecution of Christians around the world, and to identify those who commit these crimes. We must recognize that the persecution of vulnerable Christian populations by militant Islamists and Communists is a herald of things to come for the remainder of humanity.
While the Western media are ready to uphold humanitarian causes, Christian martyrdom is not one of them. For one example, World magazine laments that:
- Google is hot for homosexual rights, but where’s the global campaign to support Christians, who are persecuted in dozens of countries? (August 11, 2012)
This is none! What Western nation is threatening these abusing countries for their flagrant violation of human rights? I am aware of none.
Meanwhile, the churches remain silent, convinced, for one reason or another, that they have to stare clear of politics. However, this position finds absolutely no support within the pages of Scripture. Instead, we are repeatedly warned to stand against oppression, especially the martyrdom of our brethren:
- Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26)
When a Christian is silent or unresponsive, he “gives way to the wicked.” Instead, we are to expose wickedness:
- Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephes. 5:11).
Silence is not an option. If we don’t extend ourselves to the broken and the dying, it is sin:
- Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:17)
We cannot turn our backs. While many pastors insist that by taking a “political” stance, we turn people away from hearing the Gospel, Scripture would argue the opposite thing. Jesus prayed that His disciples would love one another so that the world would know that they belong to the Messiah – the Savior:
- "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)
- "My prayer is…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:19-24)
How can the world see our mutual love, if we turn away from the oppression of our brethren? However, if they see us pouring ourselves out for our brethren – whether they are in Africa, the Middle East or Asia – they will marvel at our love and self-sacrifice and wonder at the God who motivates such self-sacrifice.