I’m usually a cheerful, silly person, and I generally write cheerful, silly blog posts. To quote Louisa May Alcott, “I can only say that it is a part of my religion to look well after the cheerfulnesses of life, and let the dismals shift for themselves.” There is a time, however, to be serious.
Today’s post is a serious one.
There are times when I have no words. I’m good at using words. (In fact, I probably use too many of them.) There are times, however, when words fail me. I sometimes want to scream and holler and wave my fists, but I never do. (These behaviors are generally frowned upon.) Instead, I sit down and spend a few minutes feeling old and tired.
Yesterday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Do you know what else happened yesterday? Christians in Nigeria mourned the slaughter of their loved ones. Christians in Eritrea languished in pitch-black prison cells. Christians in India struggled to survive as refugees, and at least one Christian in the United States of America spent a few minutes sitting down and feeling old and tired.
After giving it a lot of thought, I realized there are basically three things I want to say about religious persecution.
First, it exists.
Over several years, I’ve read hundreds of reports of persecution against Christians. Hundreds. There were hundreds I didn’t read, and God knows how many incidents were simply never reported.
Some of these cases were complicated. In Nigeria, for example, the attacks carried out by Islamist radicals in past months were not directed toward Christians exclusively, but toward anyone who violated the Islamist ideal of sharia law.
Then there were the simple cases—the tragically simple cases. I remember Nurta Mohamed Farah, a Somali teen who was shot to death simply for choosing to embrace Christianity. There have been so many cases in which Christians were targeted specifically because of their faith.
Religious strife sometimes blurs together with politics and economics, but one fact remains: Christians suffer for following Christ.
The second thing I want to say about religious persecution is that it’s wrong. It is wrong. Innocent people are arrested, abducted, beaten, tortured, raped or murdered, and why? They choose to believe in a loving God. That’s it. They pray and sing and worship and invite others to join them. That’s their crime, and so many suffer for it.
Religious persecution can’t be denied, and it mustn’t be tolerated.
This brings me to the third thing I want to say.
Jesus Christ once said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” If we were persecuted, we would certainly want others to care for us. Since others are persecuted, it’s up to us to care for them.
What can we do?
Keeping informed is a good place to start. (I have a blog, Solidarity, that posts summaries of persecution cases every two weeks.) Spreading awareness helps. Donations to humanitarian organizations like Voice of the Martyrs support victims of persecution. I believe prayer matters most of all.
There are times when I have no words. Today wasn’t one of them. I’ve written quite a number of words today, and I hope they make a difference.