The DailyBeast.com just reported that “Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity.” Author Kirsten Powers notes that one would expect a huge outcry from American churches. But she shockingly states that this is not the case. Rather, “the silence has been nearly deafening.”
Sadly, for many churches persecution and martyrdom don’t fit on the Sunday program. Perhaps churches don’t want to “make members feel bad.” I was quite disappointed by the lack of response by believers and churches to recent events to support Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor tortured and imprisoned for his faith in Iran– though in spite of that, God moved and did some wonderful things. I fear for the American Body of Christ: if we are too busy with daily pleasures and affairs and our programmed church activities to hear the cries of our persecuted and martyred brothers and sisters, who will be here to hear our cries should such come to America-as it very realistically could. We really need to pray for the American Body of Christ to wake up before we finally wake up to find it’s too late to turn things around — and now we are the targets of persecution.
The opposition American Christians experience could more appropriately be termed discrimination-at least for now. We are not being tortured, imprisoned and murdered for our faith as is happening around the world. So American Christians and churches find it easy to go about the comfortable business-as-usual.
You may ask: what can we do about it? The first thing we can and must do is awaken from our self-serving churches that focus more on building numbers by entertaining members rather than building the Body of Christ and God’s Kingdom. To remain silent in the face of evil is to be complicit with evil. We must pray in sincerity passionately, regularly for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. And we can do many other things as we listen to the Lord and obey. We can write many of these believers in prison, as well as writing government officials in the persecuting country, and our own government officials to act. Right now not only do many governments participate in or condone persecution of Christians, but our U.S. government so often remains silent — unless they hear from concerned citizens.
For example, numerous Christians this past week gathered in state capitols and government buildings in the US and in other nations to have a prayer vigil to support Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini who has been imprisoned and tortured for his faith in Iran. Sadly a remnant were faithful to help, but too many believers and churches were too busy with their daily pleasures and affairs. Other times some of us have gathered for group prayers for Saeed. In my city, we also held a walk/run to raise support for Saeed, his family and other persecuted Christians.
So what can we do? Opportunities and possibilities to help our persecuted brothers and sisters are as abundant as the mind of the Holy Spirit and our willingness to heed the call. But one thing we cannot do is remain silent, apathetic or turn a deaf ear to the cries of our brethern-or we might one day find ourselves in their shoes with no one to help.