As millions of Western Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, I’d like to ask you to spare a thought and say a prayer for the huge numbers of Christians for whom this is not a season of peace and goodwill, but a time of extra special fear.
I am talking about Christians facing persecution for their faith.
We sometimes think of this as something from the past – from the time of the disciples, from the days of the Roman Empire, or the much more recent industrial-scale slaughter of Orthodox Christians by the Bolsheviks.
But, sadly, the persecution of Christians has never gone away. Indeed, Christians today face worse persecution than at any time in history, a report issued earlier this year concluded.
‘Persecuted and Forgotten?’ is a study by the UK office of Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need. It says that the persecution of Christians reached a new high between 2015 and 2017, as groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram stepped up attacks.
The report accuses the international community of failing to respond adequately to the violence, stating: “Governments in the West and the UN failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway.
John Pontifex, who edited the report, says: “In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history.
“Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.”
“If Christian organisations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”
Of course, there is only so far that a charity operating in the liberal West can go, so the report avoids naming the main ‘other institutions’ which stepped in to save Christians in Syria and Iraq. They were, of course, the Russian Air Force and Hezbollah, who came to the aid of the tolerant Syrian government and helped them wipe out the Jihadi forces.
The Islamist head-cutters, of course, had been killing Christian men, seizing Christian women and girls as sex slaves, and desecrating churches. And the weapons they were using were supplied by Barack Obama and the liberal Deep State through Operation Timber Sycamore – the biggest gun-running operation in world history.
Now that the Jihadis are being defeated, many of the surviving Christians in Syria and Iraq will be heading home this Christmas, to begin to rebuild their shattered homes and lives. But persecution continues in Islamist countries, including in particular Libya and Pakistan, and much of north and central Africa.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram have displaced more than 1.8 million people. In one diocese alone – Kafanchan – within five years, 988 people had been killed, and 71 Christian villages have been destroyed, as well as 2,712 homes and 20 churches.
In many other places, including in particular Egypt, the Christian minority are officially tolerated, but in fact subjected to repeated terror attacks and denied full protection. In the Middle East, only Syria and Iran fully protect and respect their Christian minorities.
In the occupied West Bank, some illegal ultra-Zionist settlements are being built on land stolen from Palestinian Christians, whose churches are also often vandalised or firebombed by extremists.
The world’s surviving Communist states also persecute Christians. North Korea is the most notorious, but China is also guilty in this regard. More than 2,000 churches have been demolished in the coastal province of Zhejiang, and police still routinely detain clergymen.
Less well known but still very real are the problems faced by Christians in India. Hindu extremists have broken into churches and threatened Christian schools. Just last week Hindu fundamentalists detained 30 seminarians and two priests and set their car on fire just for singing Christmas carols.
What is even more shocking is that eight priests went to inquire about the detained priest and seminarians were also arrested
This was the second incident of religious intolerance in India since the beginning of Advent. On December 10, four Christians were arrested and thrown in prison for the crime of praying for Christmas. Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said the arrests were illegal and just the “latest episode of intolerance against Christians.” George said, “Christians are increasingly intimidated and harassed.”
Finally, I would like to remind you that the few remaining Christian communities in the Islamist-occupied Serbian heartland of Kosovo also face a Christmas of uncertainty and fear. Low-level harassment of Christian communities goes on all the time, and there is an ever-present threat of renewed ethnic cleansing violence by their Muslim Albanian neighbours.
So as you celebrate this Christmas and New Year, please spare a thought, and say a prayer, for the Serbian Christians in occupied Kosovo, and indeed for Christians everywhere, who face persecution by Islamist or Communist regimes.
Of course, the Church has always thrived on the blood of martyrs. Even with ISIS terrorism at its height, people continue to convert to Christianity. Indeed, there have even been cases where Islamic State fighters have been so impressed with the courage and faith of their Christian victims that they have themselves become Christians.
Truly, the Lord moves in mysterious ways!
In the West, too, the time of weak faith and heretical liberal clergy, which today oppresses believing Christians, will also pass.
Perhaps even the influx of aggressive Muslims is not really down to politicians such as Merkel, but rather is part of God’s plan to bring His people back to their senses and back to Him.
For the times now coming to the West will be very hard on Christians, and on those of Christian background who have lost their way. But that very hardness will surely bring the peoples of the West back to their Faith. Back to Jesus.
The revival of Christianity has already happened in Russia, it is happening right now in Poland. Soon it will happen in the West as well!
So be of good cheer and great faith, for Christendom WILL be saved and restored. The only question is what your role will be in the Resistance and Reconquista. Deus Vult!