During the recent Easter season, we saw the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East—with radical Islamists celebrating the massacres.
In Egypt on Palm Sunday, terrorists carried out bomb attacks at two prominent churches, killing 44 people and turning morning services into scenes of blood-spattered pews, mangled bodies, and worshipers in shock. More than 125 were injured. Many of the dead and injured were children.
That evening, an NBC News reporter who covers the Middle East summed up the bigger picture for his worldwide audience: “ISIS attacks Christians with horrifying regularity.”
That certainly includes Christians in northern Iraq, where I visited on Easter. Hundreds of thousands of believers in Iraq have been forced by violence to flee their homes—125,000 just in the last year. Churches are being blown up, families torn apart, and large numbers of Christians kidnapped and tortured or slaughtered for the Name of Jesus.
It’s not just in the Middle East—more than 90,000 people around the globe lost their lives in the past year because they were followers of Christ. Millions more live under constant threat of intimidation, physical attack, or harm to their family or livelihood.
In India, a church was burned down or a pastor beaten an average of 10 times a week last year. In Mexico, 23 Christians were murdered specifically because of their obedience to Jesus. In northern Nigeria, dozens of villages have been burned in the past few months by anti-Christian militants, hundreds of believers killed, and 1,400 homes and 16 churches destroyed. One Nigerian bishop says it is as though Christian families, their churches, and their schools have “become target practice.”
These are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We must wake up and pay attention to what is happening. It’s time to get up and do something—if we don’t, it will soon be too late.
That’s why we’re hosting the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians this month in Washington, D.C. We have invited 600 delegates from 130 countries all over the world. They include Christian leaders experienced in dealing with various forms of persecution, people active in helping victims, and more than 120 delegates who themselves have been imprisoned, tortured, or forcibly exiled for their faith.
We’re bringing them to Washington for the summit. I want the politicians and the national news media—and the American church—to see and hear firsthand what’s taking place. We want to put a big spotlight on the persecution that is happening to Christians around the world.
One pastor I know in northern Iraq, whose church building is now the center of a refugee camp, said: “Genocide—that’s a polite word for what has happened to my people.” The pastor himself was kidnapped and brutally tortured for nine days because he boldly bears the Name of Christ. “People here will die if they lose hope,” he says. “People will die if they feel no one loves them. I want Christians to speak out and tell the world.”
We want to speak as one voice to the countries where persecution is taking place. And we want to stir Christians and churches to pray for those who are being persecuted and also for those who persecute them. The Bible says, “Love your enemies … pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28, HCSB).
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