May 12, 2017

US World Summit on Persecuted Christians

Did you know that approximately 100,000 Christians are violently killed annually because of their faith?

The 2017 World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, May 10-13, offers something to think about, pray about and share news about. These saints that suffer and die daily are precious in God's eyes, and are treated as the off-scouring of the world. Christians from 136 countries attended this summit, and affirmed that it is not merely a feel-good meeting, nor a meeting to merely bring awareness, but an attempt also to bring legal relief and defense against the crime of genocide as targeted specifically against Christians in countries such as Iraq.

Did you know that approximately 100,000 Christians are violently killed annually because of their faith, according to a Vatican testimony to the UN? That is enough to fill Ohio Stadium or Wembly Stadium. And according to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights because of their faith. Of the 100-200 million Christians under assault, the majority are persecuted in Muslim-dominated nations. Christians are the most allegedly persecuted with 80% of all acts of religious discrimination being directed at Christians who only make up 33% of the world's population.

If it seems strange to you that all of the attention is focused on Muslim migrants while the group suffering the most are Christians being killed in Muslim countries, then you might want to learn more about the type of  identity politics displayed by the United Nations and the European Union.

The World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians was actually sponsored by the US Government and has a government web page. Vice President Pence underscored that President Trump did not mince words with politically correct speech: "He calls them by name, radical Islamic terrorists," The Christian Times explains, "Practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for followers of Christ, and none more so than the barbarians known as ISIS," Pence continued. Unlike attitudes of former President Obama and the United Nations, genocide is identified and used as a valid label by Pence: "Isis... is guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith and it is time the world called it by name."

Franklin Graham outlined what he believes is the real reason why Christians are being martyred more than anytime in history, to try to keep us silent, as noted at The Christian Post:

“But, the real reason I believe Christians are persecuted is to suppress their faith, quiet their voice, marginalize the very word of God,”

Most Christians understand that there is a spiritual battle taking place daily and that satanic forces are aligned against the truth of Christ and the gospel. Graham correctly emphasizes that aggressive secularism is also causing the increase of persecution against Christians.

The targeting of Christians for genocide by Muslims in Iraq is not very dissimilar from the targeting of Jews for genocide by Hitler in Germany. It is not merely a matter of bringing awareness of a problem, but is also a matter of trying to bring some actual relief and justice, despite the lack of interest by the United Nations in this subject.

The ACLJ for one is taking proactive legal steps to try to address this serious problem: "..the day on which the United States and Israel observe Holocaust Remembrance Day – we sent a legal letter to the newly appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations to remind him that genocide is still a very real and ongoing issue and one the international community must stand against."

It is not surprising that this persecution is on the rise globally, considering that Jesus warned that it would be a sign of the End Times. But do we as Christians pray enough about this? While it is obvious that we should pray for the victims, Jesus' advice on the matter may surprise you: 

Jesus encouraged forgiveness and prayer for those that persecute: 
"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5.43-45 NIV)

How can one see their family executed at the hands of jihadists and then pray for their enemies? Without God this would not be possible. But God is the central focal point and foundation of truth and love, and, therefore, there is always hope. Though we Christians that follow scripture recognize that there is a positive conclusion to history in Christ, we are still called to help those in need in society today.

Both Mike Pence and Graham helped to organize the summit on Christian persecution. And President Trump is outspoken in his desire to address this problem:

“In Syria, the Christian population has plummeted from one-and-a-quarter million to only 500,000 in just the past six years,” he said. “In Iraq, followers of Christ have fallen by 80 percent in the past decade and a half due to the violence of extremism and acts against Christian communities.”

The United Nations does not seem interested in addressing this issue. The mainstream media does not seem very interested either. But in God's eyes, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants." (Psalm 116.15 NIV)

If anything, we should remember these Christians in our prayers:

"Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." (Hebrews 13.3 NIV)

The Nazarene Symbol

On a grass roots level, the symbol of Isis hatred has also become a symbol of Christian support and solidarity for those facing persecution, torture, and genocide today, the Nazarine symbol. This one "N" in Arabic is used by Isis to mark people and homes that support Christianity, kind of like the Star of David was used during the Holocaust to mark Jews.

Some Christians prefer the solidarity symbol of "N" together with a cross.

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