Thursday, 28 March 2019

Rising Persecution of Christians

Everyone was utterly appalled by the killing of Muslims while at prayer in a mosque in Christchurch, and the response by the people of New Zealand was incredible. I have enothing but admiration for the way they, and especially their Prime Minister Jacina Ardern, responded with compassion, love and determination to not let the terrorists/extremists win. We have prayed for them at St. James, that such a tragedy and such hate, will not have the upper hand.

And this outpouring of support and sympathy has resounded around the globe and governements have spoken out of their outrage and their concern about the rise of right-wing extremism. But what worries and concerns me is that we don't hear the same outrage expressed consistently across the board when Christians are at the receiving end of Islamic extremism. In Nigeria, for example, 120 Christians were killed by Fulani militia just two days later and the news barely registered with the media.

Barnabas Fund contacts report that in all nearly 300 people were killed in at least seven predominantly Christian villages across Kaduna State, Nigeria, in February and March 2019; brutal rapes and maiming with machetes were also reported.

In a dawn attack on Karamai on 14 February, 41 died when some 300 gunmen engulfed the village, chanting “Allahu Akbar!” as they fired their guns and ransacked homes. Almost all the dead were women and children, apart from a few elderly and blind men who were unable to flee.

Up to 71 people were killed and 28 injured in a Fulani militia attack on 11 March in Dogon Noma village, Kaduna State. According to eyewitness accounts, the gunmen were “torching houses, shooting and hacking down anything that moved”. Some 100 houses were destroyed in the attack.
This is reported across Christian media but not the secular press, and one can only wonder why that is?

We are living in a time when persecution against Christian believers is the highest in modern history. According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List—an in-depth investigative report focusing on global Christian persecution—11 Christians die for their faith every day. That is in excess of 4000 every year. 

Every month:
255 Christians are killed
104 are abducted
180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage
66 churches are attacked
160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned

Christian churches are attacked nearly every day, multiple times a day, in some cases, around the world, by extremists, by governments that are shutting them down. The ten most dangerous places to live as a Christian are: India, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and North Korea. 

Yet, trends show that countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are intensifying persecution against Christians, and perhaps the most vulnerable are Christian women, who often face double persecution for faith and gender.

All killing of people of whatever religion or none is despicable and should be condemned by all. But let us not fall into the trap of appearing to claim that the deaths of some are more newsworthy than others, as appears to be the case in recent reportage. 

Lottery. Good or bad?

The following is a sermon I gave in response to some concerns raised about our application for a Lottery Grant to renovate our church and ch...