Monday, February 17, 2014

The Culpable Silence of the Church

What is our responsibility to our brethren internationally? The jacket of The Global War on Christians by CNN writer John L. Allen Jr. states:

  •  From Iraq and Egypt to Sudan and Nigeria, from Indonesia to the Indian subcontinent, Christians in the early twenty-first century are the world’s most persecuted religious group. According to the secular International Society for Human Rights, 80 percent of violations of religious freedom in the world today are directed against Christians.
  •  The Open Doors Estimate, based on decades of tracking the realities of persecution in some of the darkest corners of the earth, is that roughly one hundred million Christians today suffer interrogation, arrest, and even death for their faith, with the bulk located in Asia and the Middle East. The overall total makes Christians the most at-risk group for violations of religious freedom. (37)

It is not simply a matter of human rights violations. It’s also a matter of genocide. For instance:

  • In 1991, Iraq boasted a flourishing Christian population of at least 1.5 million. Today the high-end estimate for the number of Christians left is around 500,000, and many believe it could be as low as 150,000. Most of these Iraqi Christians have gone into exile, but a staggering number have been killed. (4)

Meanwhile, the church in the West remains relatively silent. Allen laments:

  • It’s probably a safe bet that one could visit a variety of different Christian denominations over an extended period of time before hearing a sermon devoted to the subject of the global war on Christians, or finding an adult faith formation group studying it, or reading about it while browsing the collection of literature in the back of a church. (17)

This is particularly tragic since charity is mandated to begin at home, with our own family:

  • Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:10)

And our Third World family of believers is crying out, “Where are our brethren in the West.” In the face of Islamic persecution, the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, pleaded in a conference in London in 2011:

  • “Does anyone hear our cry? How many atrocities must we endure before somebody, somewhere, comes to our aid?”

Often, we hear but close our ears, but this is no excuse, according to Scripture:

  • Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Let us therefore ask our Lord to forgive our sins of omission (James 4:17) and offer ourselves up for His service (Hebrews 12:2).

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