Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Christmas Looked like this Year for the Persecuted Church

Don Sweeting recently summarized various ways Christians have been persecuted around the world in the last month. For instance, regarding Christians in Iraq and Jordan, he writes:

  • Christmas in Iraq It will be a Christmas of mourning for many Iraqi Christians. Christmas services were cancelled in Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk following what appears to be a never ending stream of kidnappings, assassinations and mass killings of Iraqi Christians. Attacks seam to spike at Christmas. For many there will be no decorations, no ceremonies and no gatherings because it is too dangerous. This week some churches cancelled services in order to protect their congregations after receiving threats from al-Qaeda.

    In Baghdad the fear was especially intense as Sunni terrorist are vowing to kill Christians wherever they find them. Sunni terrorists recently claimed responsibility for bombing churches packed with Sunday worshippers. . . .

    One pastor who was daring to hold services said that in his sermon he was going to focus on the clashes and his people’s fears, but also on the message of hope. He would remind them of the massacre of innocents that was a part of the original Christmas story and yet speak to them of the hope of heaven. He said “Christmas is a time of hope and joy as well as pain and martyrdom.”

  • Christmas in Jordan Meanwhile, Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan are mourning. “Christmas is not for us,” they said. This is because some of them just fled Baghdad two months after their homes were stormed by masked men who ordered them to leave, saying “you Christians (will) have no bread in this country; you have two days to leave.” One Iraqi refugee asked, “How are we going to feel the joy of Christmas when our churches were attacked and our own children were killed in front of the church communion table?" Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have had to flee that nation since 2003.
You can read the rest of the summaries here.

These grim descriptions of this year's Christmas season are sobering reminders that all has not yet been made right.

After I read these accounts, I sought to verify some of the details. Sadly, it's not a difficult task.

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