- (Moody Broadcasting Network, 2013)
With all of the unrest being reported in countries like Egypt, Syria and Libya, perhaps the real untold story is the record number of Christians leaving the Muslim world.
According to Open Doors USA, at least 100 million Christians in 65 countries suffer persecution. For example, as the situation in Syria continues to intensify, it is very easy to forget the plight of Syrian Christians who are fleeing the country.
In his new book, Crucified Again, Raymond Ibrahim writes that Christians in that country are being targeted for kidnapping, plundering and beheadings. He reports that regions and towns that were once populated with Christians are now emptied.
Ibrahim was raised by Egyptian Coptic Christians and has detailed how, in October of 2012, the last Christian was murder in Homs, a vibrant Christian community that was once home to 80,000 believers. Tom Doyle, of e3 Partners, has said the Syrian situation is one of the "largest humanitarian disasters in the Middle East in probably the last ten years."
But the crisis for Christians goes beyond Syria. Nigeria is now the country with the highest number of slaughtered Christians. Last year, more than 900 Christ-followers were victims of the Boko Haram group and other Islamic militants.
In Morocco, a fatwa has been issued, calling for the execution of those who leave Islam. Christians there live under a cloud of concern knowing that they could be arrested or killed any time. One Christian leader said that, "only the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us courage and peace."
In Bethlehem, a town that witnessed that greatest birth on earth is also witnessing major intimidation from Muslims. Jihadists have burnt stores, built mosques in front of churches, committed atrocities against women and blamed Jews for Christian suffering.
A new report from the International Campaign for Human Rights says that Christians in Iran are being arbitrarily arrested and even executed for apostasy. Churches are threatened, members are monitored and religious material is confiscated.
In Iraq, the situation continues to worsen for believers. Two hundred Christians have been kidnapped for ransom, 900 have been killed and more than 60 churches have been bombed between 2003 and 2012. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, an estimated 1,000 Christians have been killed.
In December of last year, the British news publication, The Telegraph, ran a story with the headline "Christianity Close to Extinction in the Middle East." Citing a report from the think-tank Civitas, the article explains that many "politicians have been 'blind' to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East." The report concludes that Christians are targeted more than any other group of believers.
And yet, there is good news in the midst of suffering. People are coming to faith in record numbers in the Middle East. Punished, imprisoned, tortured and killed – all potentially a part of the believer's life in that part of the world. But a desire to know Jesus Christ – and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2) transcends all.
That's my opinion. I'm Janet Parshall.