“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name” (Luke 21:12).
2015 was a watershed year. It was the worst year of Christian persecution in history. Worse than any time before it, 2015 will be known in the future as the year when the persecution of Christianity went mainstream.
2015 has been worse than the time of the Inquisitions in the middle ages, worse even than the horrors inflicted by Nero. This modern day persecution is real and is becoming more prevalent day by day. Christians are being persecuted, to varying degrees, literally all over the face of this earth.
Open Doors, a human rights organization that has been documenting Christian persecution since 1955 says it believes more than 7,000 Christians have been killed for their faith in 2015. This figure represents the lower end of the spectrum and is more than double 2014’s total. Open Doors also reports that almost 2,500 churches were attacked and destroyed in 2015, again more than double the total for the previous year.
There is an unreported genocide taking place right now and it is primarily taking place against Christian men, women and children. Murder, torture, mass executions, beheadings, mutilations, kidnappings, forced “marriages,” crucifixions, burnings, stonings, reducing women and girls to slavery in a way not seen for a thousand years; intimidation and discrimination, all are part and parcel of what is occurring on a daily basis to Christians in 2016.
This persecution, fuelled mainly by a huge rise in Islamic fundamentalism and aided by repressive governments, is leading many campaigners to warn that there is a new type of religious-ethnic cleansing, taking place in the world today.
Christians are being persecuted all over the earth; in the Middle East, in sub Saharan Africa, in Asia and in Latin America. The House of Parliament cross party group tasked with examining religious persecution recently found that, “…as many as 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the world face some degree of restriction, discrimination or outright persecution.” This accounts for about one in ten of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians.
This trend, because of instability, war and the geopolitical make-up of the world right now, is set to rise and rise into the next few years. This should come as no surprise to students of the bible. Prophecy tells us that very soon this fast increasing trend will reach an exponential curve of Christian persecution during the Tribulation period. That period lays not that far down the road at this point.
The persecution we are witnessing around the world today, if the Lord tarries long enough, will come to our own door steps before not much more time passes by.
David Alton, a crossbench peer who campaigns on religious freedom in the House of Parliament said, “Whatever the real figures the scale is enormous. From Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt to North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, from Cuba, Colombia and Mexico to Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, Christians face serious violations of religious freedom.”
Many face death.
John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need said, “The persecution of Christians is at a level we’ve not seen for many, many years and the main impact is the migration of Christian people. There are huge swaths of the world which are now experiencing a very sharp decline in the number of Christians.”
This persecution is real and it is burgeoning. The Pew Research Centre has gone even further saying that Christians face harassment up to the point of death in over 102 countries. This is more than any other religion. 2015 was the year that Christianity officially became the most persecuted religious faith on this earth.
Lisa Pearce, chief executive of Open Doors UK and Ireland, recently stated something all prophecy watchers know to be true, “…the rate of increase is accelerating.”
Closer analysis of this persecution also reveals that there are two quite disturbing constants to this modern day persecution. One is that this persecution is being carried out and driven, in the main, by Islamic fundamentalism, aided by repressive governments and states.
Of the top 50 countries with the worst record of persecuting Christians in 2015, 41 of these countries are dominated by Islamic fundamentalism. In 35 of these top 41 countries the persecution of Christians by Islamic extremism, “has risen to a level akin to ethnic cleansing.”
The second constant is intrinsically linked to the rise of this new type of genocidal Islam. The most significant increase in persecution against Christian men and women in the world today has taken place in countries where the United States has attempted some form of direct or indirect foreign policy intervention.
It is an uncomfortably truth but the foreign policy of the United States over the last eight years has led to, or can be linked with, the largest rise in the persecution of Christian’s today. This is because it has been the foreign policy of the United States that has provided the conditions necessary for this Islamic fundamentalism, and the genocidal elements within it, to rise and grow.
In countries, especially in the Middle East, where the United States has directly intervened the biggest winners in that intervention over the last decade have always been elements involved with Islamic fundamentalism.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya ten years ago were not even in the top ten countries of the world when it came to persecuting Christians. Today, in March 2016, Iraq are the second worst persecutors of Christians on earth, behind atheist North Korea. Afghanistan are now fourth, Syria are fifth and Libya are tenth.
Ten short years ago, Syria and Libya were not even in the top twenty nations for persecuting Christians, Syria was ranked number 47 and Libya number 22. What changed all this was the direct foreign policy intervention of the United States under the administration of Barack Obama. It was Barack Obama and his Secretary of State who began the process of publically and privately undermining the largely Western friendly secular autocrats in charge of these nations, ultimately to such a degree that their Western friendly, Christian accepting regimes fell. Into that void seeped Islamic fundamentalism and truly horrific variants of it like ISIS.
Ten short years ago Iraq under Saddam Hussein, was not even ranked in the top thirty for Christian persecution. Now, in 2016 vast swathes of Iraqi land have been completely purged of Christian communities which dated back thousands of years.
In 2015, Iraq was rated as being the worst Muslim nation on earth in which to live as a Christian. Active genocide is taking place there and this current U.S. administration, and the world, say and do absolutely nothing about it. Instead, perversely, they claim Iraq and other countries like Afghanistan as a “victory.”
Each and every country that the United States and the West has tried to bring “freedom and democracy” to, has instead fallen to radical elements of Islamic fundamentalism. A true Pandora’s box has been opened and the result has been a bloodbath for Christians living in the Middle East. The life of Christians in the Middle East has been significantly, exponentially, worsened as a consequence of direct intervention by the Unites States.
This persecution of Christians is now burgeoning and it is spreading.
Much has changed in the last eight years, and especially under this president. The persecution that has already begun is only going to grow both at home and abroad. There is nothing to stop it anymore. The institutions that once prevented Christian persecution at home are now becoming enablers of it. The will to stand up against this growing threat has now all but disappeared. The flood gates are opening at home as they already have abroad.
There is also an obvious disconnect today over the clear link between persecution and immigration, or a willful denial of it. Christian persecution and issues like immigration are one and the same, they are intrinsically linked.
The reason why they are linked is because the destruction of power structures in the Middle East, that have resulted in the empowerment of forces that are hostile to Christians over there, has also empowered forces that are actively hostile to us as a nation state.
Forces that actively want to engage us in an asymmetric war in our own homelands, in our own communities, are trying to gain access to the United States and Europe every day. Many are already in America, as is the case currently in Europe.
The people that hate and are killing Christians in the Middle East are the same people and groups that hate America and Europe more generally. The enemies of Christians in the Middle East, enemies who are butchering them day and night in foreign fields, are our enemies as a nation state.
It is not just the Christians living in the Middle East that these Islamic fundamentalists wish to bring the fight to, they want to bring it to us, within the borders of our own countries, within our own home towns.
And they are succeeding. Just watch the news; London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, all united by recent outrages against innocent, unsuspecting people. Since the beginning of 2015, ISIS or inspired groups have carried out 75 attacks in over 25 countries, other than Iraq and Syria. In these attacks they have killed outright at least 1280 people and left mortally wounded 1770. Countless more have received injuries regarded as non-critical or non-life changing in these attacks. These figures are for attacks outside of Iraq and Syria only.
Conservative intelligence estimates in the wake of the Belgium attacks are that there are between 600 to 800 fully trained ISIS members in Europe right now, just waiting for the “go.” More attacks and massacres will surely follow.
Now more than ever it is important to hold the promises concerning the Blessed Hope close. Now more than ever we should be looking up, witnessing to the lost, stepping out in faith and straightening out our own walks with the Lord. We should be lifting our heads high, because our salvation does draw nigh.
Our time left on earth is clearly getting short, our time to good is much shorter, so be bold and courageous in these dark days!