I was seduced by the cover.
As I walked through Heathrow the other day, its extremist image and glaring headline captured me.
I bought. I read.
"The War on Christians: the global persecution of Christians is the unreported catastrophe of our time"
The article commences with three observations about the landscape of anti-Christian persecution today, 'as shocking as they are generally unknown':
According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular observatory based in Frankfurt, Germany, 80% of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. (emphasis very definitely mine)
According to the Pew Forum, between 2006 and 2010 Christians faced some form of discrimination, either de jure or de facto, in a staggering total of 139 nations, which is almost three-quarters of all the countries on earth.
According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts, an average of 100,000 Christians have been killed in what the centre calls 'a situation of witness' each year for the past decade. That works out to 11 Christians killed somewhere in the world every hour... .After spending the bulk of the article collecting specific contemporary examples of this persecution, the author asks the question, 'why are the dimensions of this global war so often overlooked?' He provides some responses, including:
... the victims are largely non-white and poor and thus not considered 'newsmakers' in the classic sense, and they tend to live and die well off the radar screen of western attention ...
... the global war runs up against the out-dated stereotype of Christianity as the oppressor rather than the oppressed ...
... Whatever the motives for the silence, it's well past time for it to end.Then he turns to Pope Francis (as many will be doing in coming years, as long as he stays alive):
When I hear that so many Christians in the world are suffering, am I indifferent, or is it as if a member of my own family is suffering?While it is good to have Pope Francis on board with his talk of the global human family, the Apostle Paul has already said something similar - about the church as a single body, not just a single family. To see Paul's words to a local church having a projection onto the global church has become the greatest motivator to mission for me. I obey the Great Commission. I feel the Great Compassion. I know about hell - and heaven. I can count the statistics. But none of these have the prominence that these words from 1 Corinthians 12 have had in my life in recent years:
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honourable are those we clothe with the greatest care ... So God has put the body together such that extra honour and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honoured, all the parts are glad.And so my response to the article? The global church needs to live like it is a single human family (like the Pope says) and like it is a single human body (like the Apostle says). Name the suffering, the persecution, the discrimination - speak out what is left silent ... and then make decisions with my relationships, my income, and my vocation that glue me with greater solidarity to those I may think that I do not need. This will build the harmony of the global church and this harmony will make the partnership with God in his restorative mission in the world that much more effective.
Postscript: When I write these posts I make it a practice never to consult other sources or websites. I just sit down, reflect and write. But this time I went to Wikipedia to find out about The Spectator. It is 'the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language'. I discovered that they were decidedly right-wing (which I did intuit as I read the rest of the magazine). Well, God bless them for publishing this stuff. Shame on the left-wing press for remaining silent. And may The Spectator spark a greater number of Participators in the mission of God.