What a crazy world we live in. 34-year-old Pastor Saeed Abedini who is serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran, because of his Christian faith, has been in hospital the last two months recovering from severe beatings he received while in prison. On his way back from prison according to the American Center for Law and Justice he was severely beaten again. This young man lives in a daily nightmare of hate, persecution and abuse and yet his story goes almost unheeded in the west because our governments do not have the will or desire to help him.
Could persecution like that ever happen here in the west? Would people speak up to defend Christianity or would we be as indifferent as we are towards Mr. Abedini, an American citizen, who suffers daily abuse for his faith? Is it any less a travesty of justice just because the suffering is in a foreign land?
Then there is the case of American citizen Daniel Wani’s wife Meriam who has been sentenced to a flogging and then hanging for her Christian faith in Sudan. Just think about this quote from Daniel for a minute or two before you are so sure that your government would protect your freedom of religion. “Considering I am an American citizen, I am disappointed with the American Embassy’s position from the beginning of the whole case. At the start of the issue, I reported it to them but they didn’t take much interest especially the consulate. They said they didn’t have time. In fact last time they said they didn’t care much about the case. They came late – they intervened when they saw the issue was getting press attention- but the intervention was too late.”
It is almost impossible to imagine that an American citizen can have his wife sentenced to death by a foreign government for being a Christian and the U.S. consulate in that country doesn’t have time or interest in the case. And just as disturbing is the reality that the U.S. does almost nothing to free the American citizen Saeed Abedini from Iran or Kenneth Bae who is serving a 15 year prison sentence in North Korea for his faith. A recent Huffington Post blog points out Pastor Bae, “has been in prison for 18 months with poor health and in need of medical attention. August 5, 2013 he was placed in a hospital due to his health but on January 20 of this year he returned to hard labor prison camp.” According to the North Korean’s he is being held because he advocated the overthrow of his government by his preaching.
I started out saying we live in a crazy world. Now I will tell you why I believe that statement is true. Pastor McConnell, a protestant pastor in Belfast, Ireland could be facing charges of a hate crime for saying he didn’t trust Muslims in a sermon he preached in his church. McConnell seems to have over reacted when he called Islam evil and Satanic but the point is how much press the story received and the immediate reaction of the press in condemning the pastor. Muslim health care workers could quit their jobs, there are calls for politicians to step down, and the story has spread to more than a hundred countries. All of this reaction is to a sermon by a 76 year-old pastor in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile over 80 Christians were killed in 2013 in Pakistan by two suicide bombers and the western world yawned. Over 200 schoolgirls languish in the hands of the Boko Haram terrorist organization and the military might and political weight of the western world seems paralyzed to find them and return them to their parents. Just a quick reading of Open Doors Magazine, Voice of the Martyrs, and the Christian Post reveals that persecution is a daily occurrence for tens of thousands of Christians around the world but here is North America we seem to be more concerned with the latest antics of some half baked Hollywood actor or the latest wardrobe malfunction of some self-promoting celebrity want-a-be.
Can persecution come to this country? Yes, and when it does most of our fellow citizens will be too busy watching the latest hit TV program to notice or care. The saddest part of the scenario is that many of our fellow citizens will probably believe it is a good thing that Christians are shut up and not allowed to preach and teach freely. Oh, I forgot that is already happening.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim in her Huffington Post blog regarding Pastor Kenneth Bae sums up the situation nicely when she writes, “When the lights go off, people suffer in silence. This is when evil grows.” We must keep the light shinning and people constantly aware that our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer for their faith and they must not be allowed to think they suffer alone. Please keep the persecuted church in your prayers and pray for our own revival in North America that our faith will become more than a cultural occurrence. As Christians it is time for us to become serious about our faith and stand up for what we believe regardless of the personal cost.