"So many Christians in the world are suffering. Am I indifferent to that, or does it affect me like it's a member of the family? Does it touch my heart, or doesn't it really affect me, [to know that] so many brothers and sisters in the family are giving their lives for Jesus Christ?" - Pope Francis, September, 23, 2013.
Despite the fact that Christians make up roughly a third of the world's population, there are still large pockets of the planet where they are targeted and hunted down simply because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Below are just six among hundreds of stories of persecution from the bloody, painful and tumultuous year of 2013 for Christians around the globe. more >>
LOS ANGELES – The consul general of Israel in Los Angeles believes that Christianity is experiencing a rapidly growing renaissance in Israel. With that, he emphasized the biblical mandate that evangelical Christians and Jews have – to be in a favorable relationship with one another.
"We really are a community of believers and we are both mandated with relationship with one another, with relationships to our great religions, and the Promised Land, [and] the Holy Land," Consul General David Siegel recently told The Christian Post. "It's mandated in the Old Testament, it's mandated even stronger in the New Testament. So we are biblically mandated to this relationship."
Pointing to the fact that both faiths have shared foundational values, Siegel noted that in many cases these values are "identical." more >>
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reached out to Christians over the Christmas holiday in three visible ways. But Christian leaders have denounced his "hollow words."
In a Christmas statement, Rouhani "wished a new year full of cooperation, peace, security and tranquility for the Christians," Fars News reported. He also reached out to Christians through his Twitter account, proclaiming, "May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians."
But some were wary of his seemingly friendly words especially as Christians, including Iranian American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, continue to be persecuted. more >>
At least 38 people are dead and 60 wounded after two bombs went off on Christmas Day in Baghdad. One exploded outside a Catholic church as members of the congregation were leaving a Christmas Day service, while another bomb killed 11 in a market in a Christian neighborhood.
The attacks will likely only incite more anxiety in Iraq's waning Christian population, which has long been targeted by extremists following the U.S. invasion of the country and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The population has dwindled down to less than 500,000 from 1.4 million in 2003.
Dr. David Curry, president/CEO of Open Doors USA, said that he believed the violence was part of a deliberate act to remove Christians from the country. more >>
In his Angelus address on the Feast of St. Stephen, Pope Francis on Thursday focused on persecuted Christians around the world.
"We are close to those brothers and sisters who, like St. Stephen, are unjustly accused and subjected to violence of various kinds," Francis said on Thursday. "This happens especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or not fully realized."
The remarks came just a day after a Christian neighborhood market and Catholic church were bombed in Baghdad, Iraq, leaving 38 people dead. There have been growing concerns for the safety of Christians especially in the Middle East region. Notable world figures, including Britain's Prince Charles, have recently said that followers of Christ in the region are in danger of disappearing from Christianity's birth place. more >>
Nigerian Christians have once again found themselves the target of the violent Islamist extremists in the country.
Eight gunmen from the militant Muslim Fulani herdsmen group killed six people, including five children, in central Nigeria on Dec. 17.
"I found out that Miracle Ishaya (2 years old) had his intestines spilled on his bed as he was shot in his stomach," Deborah Stephen 28, who lost her 4-year-old son and had her 6-year-old sent to the hospital in critical condition, told Morning Star News. "I was also told by relatives that the Muslim gunmen who attacked our home were eight, and that they wore military camouflage and bullet-proof vests." more >>