The grow­ing per­se­cu­tion of Chris­tians

Re­li­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion is the world’s most en­dur­ing cri­sis

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Ver­non Brewer Ver­non Brewer is the founder and pres­i­dent of World Help.

The world has a dis­turb­ing way of mov­ing past its most glar­ing and per­sis­tent crises, but Hus­sam can­not move on, be­cause he and his fam­ily are stuck in a refugee camp.

Once a young pro­fes­sional with a promis­ing career in one of Iraq’s largest cities, Hus­sam was forced to flee his home with his fam­ily. ISIS had heard he was a Chris­tian and put a tar­get on his back. Hus­sam’s fam­ily fled in the mid­dle of the night, brav­ing mine­fields to avoid de­tec­tion, and reached the refugee camp just as dark­ness broke into morn­ing.

Hus­sam and his fam­ily now oc­cupy the cor­ner of an over­crowded tent in a refugee camp in north­ern Iraq. Ba­sic sup­plies they once con­sid­ered or­di­nary are a scarcity now — ev­ery day is a fight for an­other sip of water, an­other bite of food. The weather — whether snow, rain or sun — of­fers no respite, ei­ther.

Most days, Hus­sam looks at his fam­ily — stud­ies the faces of his young chil­dren — and won­ders why the world has for­got­ten them. He ques­tions why ev­ery­one has given up on Chris­tians.

Re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion is the world’s great­est and most en­dur­ing cri­sis. It’s fol­lowed us through mil­len­nia, from civilization to civilization, and has wors­ened through time. The ISIS sui­cide bomb­ings of two Egyp­tian churches on Sun­day that killed 47 wor­ship­pers is just the most re­cent ex­am­ple of the deadly as­sault on peo­ple of faith. In fact, a re­port re­leased this past Jan­uary says 2016 was the “worst year yet” for Chris­tians in the past quar­ter-cen­tury.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, per­se­cu­tion of Chris­tians has risen world­wide for three years in a row. In Nige­ria the killing of Chris­tians in­creased by a shock­ing 62 per­cent, while in In­dia, a coun­try where Hindu na­tion­al­ists have spread an anti-Chris­tian sen­ti­ment, an av­er­age of 40 in­ci­dents of ex­treme vi­o­lence are now re­ported each month.

In to­tal, 215 mil­lion Chris­tians live in coun­tries where they are sub­ject to hos­til­i­ties rang­ing from so­cial dis­crim­i­na­tion and ha­rass­ment to phys­i­cal vi­o­lence, im­pris­on­ment and even death. Chris­tians are now killed in more coun­tries than ever be­fore and are per­se­cuted in more coun­tries than any other re­li­gious group.

For those of us who have been fol­low­ing the story of Chris­tian per­se­cu­tion, this news does not come as a sur­prise. In­stead, it serves as sad con­fir­ma­tion of what we have been wit­ness­ing over the past few years: a world that’s not only grow­ing more in­tol­er­ant to­ward Chris­tians, but also in­dif­fer­ent to­ward their plight.

I have seen this first­hand.

I have made more than a dozen trips to Iraq where ISIS killed count­less Chris­tians and de­stroyed their homes, churches and crosses. I have seen the dev­as­ta­tion — churches rid­dled with bul­let holes, crosses torn down and smashed, Bi­bles burned to ashes — and I have heard the heart­break­ing sto­ries of de­cap­i­ta­tions, mass ex­e­cu­tions and tor­ture.

Th­ese are not sto­ries from an­other cen­tury or an­other era — they’re from 2016. I heard them from the lips of eye­wit­nesses. They’re the ac­counts of real peo­ple like Hus­sam, whose life has been turned up­side down by peo­ple who hate his Chris­tian faith. Yet, the world for­gets their suf­fer­ing and keeps mov­ing on.

We must ask our­selves: How long will we al­low Chris­tians to be the most per­se­cuted peo­ple in the world? Un­til there are none left in Iraq or Syria? Un­til Boko Haram wipes them out of Nige­ria and Hindu na­tion­al­ists com­pletely ban them from In­dian so­ci­ety?

It’s long past time for feel­ing shocked or even sorry for Chris­tians. It’s time to act. Chris­tians — and non-Chris­tians alike — in the West and across the world must come to the aid of those who are suf­fer­ing per­se­cu­tion be­cause of their re­li­gious be­liefs.

That’s what we’re try­ing to do at World Help, and I hope you’ll do the same. We might not be able to end a war or put a full stop to per­se­cu­tion, but we all cer­tainly can do more.

I have seen the dev­as­ta­tion — churches rid­dled with bul­let holes, crosses torn down and smashed, Bi­bles burned to ashes — and I have heard the heart­break­ing sto­ries of de­cap­i­ta­tions, mass ex­e­cu­tions and tor­ture.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY GREG GROESCH

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