Murder in the Outposts

When you hear about Christians being martyred for their faith, do you think of biblical figures such as Stephen, or John the Baptist? If you do, you’re a couple of thousand years out of date. A Regent University study showed that worldwide, more Christians were martyred last year than in the first century: 156,000 people. Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, has devoted himself to publicizing what he believes is the human rights issue today: the persecution of Christians worldwide. Horowitz says, "We are talking . . . about . . . persecution of the worst sort: Slavery, starvation, murder, looting, burning [and] torture." What has our government done to help? Next to nothing. As Horowitz observes, "[Our] elites . . . [and] policy makers . . . find it hard to believe that people would suffer as Christians [do] around the world simply because [of their] faith." Some of our leaders are blissfully ignorant of the persecution problem. For example, 30 to 60 million people belong to house churches in China. Its pastors have been tortured, murdered, and imprisoned. Our new ambassador to China, James Sasser, spent nine months getting briefed about everything going on in China that the State Department thought was important, including persecution against Buddhists. And yet when a human rights group met with Sasser just before he left and said, "we want to talk to you about the house church movement," Sasser said, "What is a house church?" We ought to be incensed at this. The State Department knows religious persecution is going on in communist and Islamic countries, but because of foreign policy interests, they simply look the other way. Christians must work to change this?and we have to keep the heat on until real changes come about. Last year, when Christians first began mobilizing on this issue, the White House promised two things. First, it would appoint a special advisor to the president on religious persecution. Second, President Clinton told the National Association of Evangelicals that he wanted to attend their convention and issue a stern public condemnation of anti-Christian persecution. But the heat came off, and the president has failed to fulfill either commitment. You and I ought to demand that President Clinton keep his promises. And one good place to start is to bring home Ambassador Sasser from China and educate him about the persecution of house churches. And we ought to demand some action from Republicans, too, and insist that religious persecution be made a major campaign issue. Contact your congressman, write letters to newspapers, and get your churches involved. It’s hard for Americans to imagine that in the modern age more Christians are suffering for their faith than at any time in history. But if we Christians are serious about what we say we believe, we had better start expressing moral outrage and sharing the hurt of our brethren in the outposts of the kingdom. Religious freedom, the right to worship the God of our choice, is a basic, inalienable human right. The American Revolution was fought partly for this reason. If we stand by and do nothing as our brothers and sisters in Christ are tortured and murdered for their faith, then we are abandoning the proudest heritage we have as Americans. And we are abandoning our birthright as Christians.


Chuck Colson


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