Report from Gary L. Bauer, OurAmericanValues.org
Friday, my wife, Carol, asked readers of her Capital Prayer Alert to pray for Christians and Jews facing persecution overseas. Recent headlines only reinforce the urgency for men and women of faith to pray without ceasing.
There are reports from Syria that Father Frans van der Lugt, a 75 year-old Catholic priest, was assassinated today by militant Islamists in the city of Homs. Father van der Lugt lived in Syria for decades. He spoke fluent Arabic and was well-regarded for his humanitarian work.
Even as the civil war wreaked havoc on the city of Homs, Father van der Lugt refused to leave and continued ministering to the few remaining Christians there. He recently told a news agency, “The Syrian people have given me so much, so much kindness, inspiration and everything they have. If the Syrian people are suffering now, I want to share their pain and their difficulties.”
Reports say that the motive for his murder is unclear, as if radical Islamists require much of an excuse to kill Christians. They don’t think twice about killing fellow Muslims. Reuters reported yesterday that Islamic extremists attacked a mosque in Nigeria, killing more than a dozen people.
The attack was reportedly carried out by adherents of the group Boko Haram, which means “Western teaching is forbidden.” According to Reuters, “They regard all who do not subscribe to their austere, al-Qaeda inspired brand of Islam, whether Christian or Muslim, as apostates…”
Meanwhile, there is a remarkable story out of Wenzhou, China. The city is sometimes called the “Jerusalem of the East” due to its rapidly growing Christian population. Christians in Wenzhou have spent millions of dollars and six years building the Sanjiang church to accommodate thousands of worshippers. It also includes a retirement home for elderly Chinese Christians who do not have children in the area.
But Communist Party officials ordered it to be demolished after a party leader recently visited Wenzhou and was infuriated by the grandeur of the Sanjiang church. Imagine that — a bureaucrat doesn’t want anything to compete with the government for the people’s love or loyalty.
To the surprise of many, local Christians are not quietly acquiescing to the communists’ demands. For days now, hundreds of Chinese Christians have formed a human shield around the church, day and night, to protect it from bulldozers.
I would like to think Christians here would show the same courage when confronted by overbearing government dictates. But, sadly, I have seen so many compromises — in the name of compassion, of course — when it comes to issues like life and marriage that I can already hear the arguments from those who say that confrontation is no way to win hearts and minds.
But sometimes it is necessary to turn over a few tables. As big government increasingly tramples our First Amendment liberties, the necessity of civil disobedience by men and women of faith becomes more likely.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.