(Photo: The Christian Post / Anna Charles)
NASHVILLE – The bad economy should not stop evangelical Christians from sharing the Gospel and also humanitarian aid in nations with high Christian persecution, Pastor Michael Youssef, founder and president of Leading The Way ministries, said in a speech earlier this week.
Despite having "problems at home," evangelical Christians should not ignore the need for missionary work and they should sacrifice resources even at a time of recession, which is not the case currently, Youssef said at the National Religious Broadcasters convention.
Besides being the founding pastor of The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, Ga., Youssef is also a media personality with his weekly television and daily radio programs broadcasted in 20 languages and reaching into more than 200 countries.
Youssef continued that a "half-hearted effort to support global mission" is not enough. Evangelicals need to get out of their "comfort zone" in order to truly follow the biblical teachings. Staying in that "comfort zone" puts lives of Christian minorities at stake, Youssef suggested.
"When God's people refuse to get out of their 'comfort zone,' tragic consequences follow," the minister said, quoting grand historical examples. Would the Vikings have had ravaged Britain if someone had taken the Gospel to them, he asked.
"Christians are being more persecuted today than at any time except in the first century," Youssef stated.
Youssef's speech comes at a time when reports from all over the world tell stories of increased persecution of Christians in countries where the followers of Jesus are a minority. Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, China, India and North Korea are a few countries where Christians are reportedly experiencing persecution. Many experts claim that all of these countries saw an increasing crackdown on religious minorities in recent years, as reports of cases of violence against Christians and other worshipers there become increasingly common.
"At this very critical moment in history, we have a choice," Youssef told the room full of NRB attendees. "Shall we focus on our problems, keep focusing on our physical things? On our Economy? On trying to please our society? On trying to accommodate to the cultural whims? Or take the command do Jesus seriously?"
The time for excuses is over, the minister declared.
"This is my 64th year of living and 38th year of ministry, and I have heard every excuse," he said. The most common objection is: We have enough problems at home. But such argument is simply not biblically excusable, Youssef said.
He also criticized two western political leaders, U.S. President Barack Obama and the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, for publicly stating that Islam is a non-violent religion.
Youssef criticized Blair for saying that he regularly reads the Quran. The politician must have ignored or had to not have read the fifth chapter, the pastor suggested, which incites enmity towards Christians and Jews.
He also expressed criticism towards President Obama's recent remark during the National Prayer Breakfast that the Golden Rule applies to Islam. (Conservative media have also criticized that statement.)
"This is a propaganda machine that we are subjugated to," Youssef said. Christian media need to stand up against the belief that Islam is absolutely non-violent, mostly propagated by secular media, he suggested, and tell "the truth." "Because the truth is what sets people free," he declared, drawing applauses.