1-26-18: 215 Million Reasons to Take Islam Seriously
Well have you ever been maligned or made fun of perhaps? Perhaps ridiculed by a classmate or a fellow worker or maybe embarrassed by a teacher because of something that you said or because of something that you believe? Well, if you have, and my guess is most of you listening to me right now have had one or more of those things happen to you in your lifetime. But, if I were to ask you, “Have you ever been beaten, thrown into jail, or publicly humiliated at the hands of government officials because of your faith in Jesus Christ,” likely very few listening to me right now have ever experienced that. If you have, then you may have in fact suffered biblical persecution. Today around the world there’s more persecution of people because of their faith in Jesus Christ than in the entire history of the world, or so that’s what the numbers are saying.
Yet, sadly, very few people know about it. So today on this program, we’re going to focus on Christian persecution. Our general theme is going to be this: slow motion holocaust, Christian persecution around the world. And we’re going to define what it is and what it’s not. We’re going to define and show where it’s happening, who’s primarily doing it, and why. And then we’re going to conclude at the end of the program with what we can do about it.
And with that I want to welcome you to Stand in the Gap Today, I’m Sam Rohrer, host of Stand in the Gap Today and I’m going to be joined today by my co-host, Dr. Gary Dull, Senior Pastor of Faith Baptist Church of Altoona, Pennsylvania, and Gary’s also the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Pastor’s Network. Our special and first time guest to Stand in the Gap Today will be Dave Bailey, he’s an educational consultant, he’s an author of two books. One of them is Dare to Speak: Islam vs Free Democracy and Free Enterprise, which was published in 2006, and the most recent one, 2013 book entitled Shock and Alarm: What it was really like at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.
So as we move now into this topic today, ladies and gentleman, I’d like to define persecution first of all, in a general sense, okay? Now here’s the definition, and I pulled this from Websters 1829 dictionary, frankly where I like to go for definitions of words. They seem to be more accurate to the original. But the definition here of persecution is this: it’s the infliction of pain, punishment or death upon others, and keyword, unjustly. Particularly for adhering to a religious creed or mode of worship, either by way of penalty or by compelling them to renounce their principles. All right? So infliction of pain, punishment, death, unjustly doing so, generally because of something that they believe.
Now, Gary, you heard the definition I just gave there, it’s in a general sense, but I want to zero in on Christian persecution as we go in the program today. And I’m gonna want you to define what biblical persecution, what it is. But, before you do that, let me just read down through a couple of things of what biblical persecution is not. So, ladies and gentleman, I’m going to give you just a few things here, but this is not Christian persecution.
For instance, a personal controversy with someone. Persecution, true, Christian persecution is not someone just making fun of you. It’s not an economic downturn or being caught out of work like the Great Depression. That was not persecution. Persecution is not necessarily war. The War for Independence, the Civil War, or World Wars I and II, were not primarily persecution even though all of them were marked with extensive death and suffering. Persecution is not something you get for doing wrong, such as being sent to jail for repeatedly refusing to pay your taxes. And persecution is not God’s corrective discipline for personal disobedience or the result of biblical principle of reaping and sowing. In other words, if you just do the wrong things, and make wrong choices all the time, bad things will happen to you, that’s not persecution either.
All right, now. Gary, let me go back to you, with those kind of things out of it, what it’s not, build out if you would just a little bit, what the Bible defines as true biblical, we say, Christian persecution, read it as defined by the Bible. Could you do that please?
Well Sam, I’m glad you went down through that list of what it is not because down through the years I’ve heard people say, “I’m being persecuted for Christ,” and they don’t really know what persecution for Christ is all about. That was very excellent that you elaborated upon that. You know the Bible tells us that persecution is something that we can expect in Second Timothy 3 in verse 12 it says, “Yea, and all that live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” And over in First Peter, chapter 2 in verse 21 it tells us that persecution is something that we are called unto. In fact, I would encourage every one of you who are listeners today to read through First Peter, because First Peter has a lot to say about persecution.
But biblical persecution, or persecution for Christ, is action that is designed to intimidate, physically harm, or kill people because of Christ. And the key component there is because of Jesus Christ. In other words, persecution is a result of doing what Christ commands us to do and living as Christ commands us to live. It’s the result of refusing to bow down to the God of government or culture and it’s the result of refusing to renounce the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the name above all names. And I’ve often said to my congregation, Sam, if somebody would walk up to you with a 12-gauge shotgun and say, “Denounce Christ or die,” what would you do? And of course, you know, if you did not denounce Christ and get shot, obviously, that’s persecution.
But this is real. And there are many nations of the world where persecution is going on today. And I would encourage people, before I turn it back to you, if you get the opportunity ladies and gentleman, to get Richard Wurmbrand’s book entitled, Tortured for Christ, do so. It will be a great challenge to you and it will help you to understand what this concept of being persecuted for Jesus Christ is all about. Sam.
Gary, we have just about half a minute before we go to the break, let me just ask you, do you think that you have ever really experienced biblical Christian persecution?
Well, that’s a very good question, Sam. I mean, you know, maybe been mocked, been laughed at, our church has been picketed because there’s certain stands we’ve taken upon the Gospel that maybe in a little sense that’s persecution, but it’s nothing like many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are going through in the world around us today.
And Gary, it’s not surprising me that you answered it that way because if you would have asked me the same question, I would have said exactly what you said. But ladies and gentleman, that probably is what, as I said at the start of the program, very few will have actually experienced in this country, true infliction of pain or punishment because of our faith in Jesus Christ. However, that’s not the case for much of the world.
Our general theme for today, is slow motion holocaust, Christian persecution around the world. We just dealt with the issue of what Christian persecution is not and what it is. But next question is, where is this happening? Well the very sad fact is that persecution, and specifically Christian persecution in particular, has risen its ugly head around the world in ways not seen before. Over the centuries since the days of Nero and the Christians in the Colosseum to the days of Stalin and Hitler and the current days of ISIS, Christians have been persecuted and martyred for their faith all around the world.
In this segment I want to identify where persecution is happening today. And to help us walk through this subject will be our special guest, Dave Bailey. He’s an educational consultant and he’s an author. His most recent book was entitled Shock and Alarm: What it was really like at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. And with that today, Bailey, I’d like to welcome you to the program. Thank you for being with us today.
So let me go right off here to the first obvious question, Dave, and that is this, how bad is Christian persecution around the world today? And how does the frequency and the extent of Christian persecution today compare to what we know from years past? Can you walk into that with us please?
It is remarkable today. According to Open Doors U.S.A., which is a tremendous resource, I recommend to anyone, they claim that 215,000,000 Christians are living under persecution today. And while the worst of the countries for Christians to live in is North Korea, North Korea is really sort of an isolated case. It’s not like North Korea is trying to spread its ideology around the world or anything like that. After that, the line goes down to Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, let’s see what else we have here, we have Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Rabia, Maldives, Nigeria, Syria, Uzbekistan, and the key point here is what you’ll see is Islam is the common theme to all of these. With the possible exception of Eritrea, which even though has a large Muslim population, is just in sort of dictatorial chaos. So it’s a little hard to pin it strictly on Islam. But the key point here is that there is a single ideology driving this persecution in every other one of these countries outside of North Korea.
You know it’s a delight to have you with us, Dave, and it’s amazing to see how this persecution is going on around the world and many people simply are not aware of it and I appreciate you mentioning some of these nations where persecution among Christians is the greatest but are you familiar with Voice of the Martyrs?
Oh yes. Fantastic organization and it’s founder, Mr. Wurmbrand, tremendous man with a tremendous story and what he endured was just incredible.
Absolutely. And as I mentioned in the first segment, his book Tortured for Christ is a great book for people to read. But recently the Voice of the Martyrs put out a map, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it or not, but they highlighted some of the nations of the world that are hostile towards Christianity and other nations of the world where Christianity is restricted. And I am wondering if you would not mind from your understanding of those two terms as it relates to persecution, explain to our audience what it means in talking about persecution, what is a restricted nation and what is a nation where Christianity is hostile? There’s hostility towards it.
Yeah, that’s a very important thing to understand. A hostile nation means that Christians are being persecuted more like on an individual basis, that is either through chaos or just a predominance of hostility towards Christians. Individuals feel like they can feel free to attack Christians with impunity. Whereas with restricted nations, it is policy of the government itself, that is the government itself is restricting Christianity from a legal perspective. Either making it illegal, making it illegal to build churches, having laws that do things like provide a death penalty imprisonment for conversion to Christianity from another religion. And that primarily happens with Islamic nations.
Dave, let me pick up on that a little bit more. I’m looking at another map. Gary was talking about he was looking at one map there. I’m looking at another map, Open Doors, which you have already sited, opendoorsusa.org. Ladies and gentleman you can go to that site and you can see what we’re talking about. I encourage you to do that, but on the map I’m looking at there, they’ve actually taken the whole world and laid it out there on a flat map, and they’ve identified the countries of the world in three different colors. One of them in yellow, the way they have it, is it designates high persecution. Tan color is very high persecution and then orange is designating extreme persecution.
And if I count this right, there are ten on that list that they have that are designated as extreme. And I believe that you did identify those countries at least in the list that you just went over. But as I compare this extreme persecution here as they have laid it out, you and I, and we’ve made the theme this program, we used the word holocaust, slow motion holocaust. When you look at that combined with all the things that you know, and we’re talking about now, why do you believe that that designation, slow motion holocaust is an accurate designation? Is that really what we’re witnessing?
Yes, it is. And it operates in different phases depending on the conditions on the ground, okay? For example, Afghanistan’s listed by Open Doors as the number two worst place for Christian persecution and a few years ago I remember reading an article where Afghanistan was celebrating the demolition of it’s last church. Now, the point there is, that in Afghanistan the persecution has basically come to it’s full conclusion. All the churches have now been wiped out and the Muslims there are very happy about it. They celebrate, okay?
And back in 2006 time-frame I remember there was a story about a man who converted to Christianity and it was discovered by his wife because he was found to have a Bible next to his bed, and for that he was imprisoned and was facing the death penalty and fortunately, I believe Italy intervened and the government of Afghanistan very neatly declared him to be mentally insane and exiled him off to Italy and that’s how his life was preserved. But that’s how complete the persecution is there. And the key point here is it’s not like the Islamist seek dominance and once they have established dominance they’re gonna let people go, take it easy. They are not satisfied until all other religions are completely extinguished, and they see Christianity as actually their number one rival, okay?
So it operates in phases and it does not let up. It just gets worse, okay? And the key thing to understand with that, is there’s Sharia law and if you see these countries sort of operating in similar ways, it’s because they are all following variations of Sharia Law, which may differ from one place to another, but fundamentally with regard to people of other faith like Christians, the treatment is the same and it just tightens the noose as control increases.
Okay. Now I’m gonna jump in here again, I got Gary, I know you got a question. Hold it, if you can, just a minute. The next segment we’re gonna go more into the who and the why of what you’re talking about there.
But on that map, it’s interesting. I do not see China, really listed on that map. Yet, at least it’s not one of the extreme ones but I’m also looking at an article here today that just came out today that was passed along to me. The title of it is 215,000,000 Christians persecuted, says mostly by Muslims, but it goes into and it talks about an example here in China, where China just very recently actually went in and burned a building, a church, where 50,000, it was a registered church but they burned it to the ground because it was getting too big.
And then this morning I heard on the news, a different news broadcast, saying that the Chinese government had moved into churches as they had them, known them, or as they were underground, that had identified them, and were ordering people to give back their ties, actually the church to give back the ties of the constituents because it was illegal. Now, China is neither Muslim nor is it North Korea. How do you classify China?
China is moving kind of in the right direction. They at one time were, I would say, every bit as persecutorial towards Christianity as North Korea was. The key difference is they’ve slowly been convinced that maybe Christianity isn’t as much of a threat to their power as they once thought. But the key thing is they are always obsessed with their own power and anything that they see as a threat to their power they will seek to crush. And so this is largely a way of asserting their power over the church and that’s what they want to maintain.
But in reality, Dave, and Gary, that is persecution to some extent but slightly different, but still the same. Ladies and gentleman, we’re talking about persecution today. Slow motion holocaust, Christian persecution around the world. It’s bigger than ever. It’s in countries all around the world as we move into this next segment, we’ve defined Christian persecution, what it is and what it’s not, important to start there with the definition. Secondly, we’ve identified in the last segment, where it is happening and it’s happening, really, across the world but if you take a look at a big map, laid out and stretched out where you have the entire world flat before you like you see in some of the maps, the heaviest concentration is in the Middle East and it runs all through the Middle East and over into Pakistan and then over China and North Korea. But the biggest bulk is in North Africa and the Middle East. If you could think about that, that’s where most is happening.
But in this segment we want to talk about who’s doing it? Who is inflicting persecution on Christians and why? Now we talked about it just a little bit in this last segment but we want to bear down with it a bit more here. In the study of Christian persecution there are certain drivers, put it in that perspective. Perhaps the very worst, in my opinion, is government. When government gets involved in working against its citizens, it becomes, in my opinion, and I think as most would analyze persecution, become pretty extreme because government has the power to imprison you, to kill you and to bring a lot of factors to bear that are perhaps worse than other drivers. But, in other cases and places like that, about the only thing that can stop a government, once it’s engaged in persecuting people, about the only thing that can stop that is some other government from the outside coming in and waging war against them to defeat them. Kind of like what happened with Hitler and Stalin in wars past.
But there are other drivers of persecution as well. These are societal factors. They’re religious and non-religious leaders, they can inflict persecution. Extended family, organized crime cartels and a host of others that we would put under the broader category of society. So you have government, then you have society. But, to me, Gary and Dave, as I am thinking about this, to me it seems like the worst all of persecutors are when you combine the sanction of religious authority with the power of government to actually bring all powers to bear and throw you in jail or to kill you. When these come together, it seems that that’s when, for now according to the map at Open Doors U.S.A., when things become extreme, extreme persecution, it seems like they’re committed or they’re combined.
So with that, I want to welcome back into the program Dave Bailey, Dave is an education consultant, author of Shock and Alarm: What it was really like at the U.S. Embassy, he’s a member of Gideons International as well. He does a lot of different things, a lot of writing and so forth, but Dave, I wanna bring you back in right now and just ask you, from your research who are the major drivers of persecution, Christian persecution today around the world. Governments, religious entities, perhaps syndicated crime entities, and you can give me your comment as well at what I just said about the combining of religious and civil authority is perhaps the worst driver, but give me thoughts on this as you analyze the whole world, basically, and what’s happening here in the area of Christian persecution.
Well thank you. In another era, I would have said communism, okay? Invariably it is a political ideology. It’s just communism has sort of lost its luster and people who hate Christianity or whatever, have kind of moved on to a large degree. The new political ideology that has risen up as the great persecutor of Christianity is Sharia Law, which is associated with Islam. And the reason why I say Sharia Law, is that is not necessarily governmental, it transcends government individual Islamist, okay? Now that isn’t necessarily any old Muslim, I mean what I’ve seen is there are two kinds of Muslims. There are devout Muslims, those are ones who really follow Sharia Law, take it very seriously. And then there’s the Muslims who don’t want to be killed by devout Muslims, so they’re just as much terrorized by the devout Muslims as anybody else is. So it’s an important distinction to keep in mind.
But the key thing is Islam empowers individual Muslims to enforce Sharia Law, personally, whether or not there is a government doing it. And that’s very important to understand. Because, just because you don’t have a government enforcing Sharia, doesn’t mean that you are not going to be affected by Sharia. And that is what I would call the greatest threat that we are facing today and to the extent that Sharia has power, the greater the power the more of the threat there is. If there’s any power at all, it is somewhat of a threat to you. That’s why here even in the United States, we are affected by terrorism.
We talked about, you know, are we being persecuted. Well, I don’t know about you, but our church has started a new policy where we’re locking the doors once the church service starts and we have somebody keeping an eye out for somebody deciding to come out and attack our church. Now we haven’t been affected directly ourselves, but because of terrorism elsewhere, this is what terrorism does. The whole point of terrorism is to make an example, essentially, of someone so everybody else has to watch out, has to tow the line, has to keep quiet and not do anything that will turn the sights onto them. So, we are affected by terrorism. If your church is now keeping guard, shutting the doors, locking the doors, changing their behaviors, you are affected by terrorism.
You know, that’s very interesting, Dave, that you bring that out because I Pastor a church here in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and for several years we’ve had a security team but recently we have just hired a professional security force to guard us while we are in church for a long time we’ve locked our doors when people get in. And it’s unfortunate that you’ve got to do that, but you do have to do that today. But you know, just something that I want to make as an observation and then perhaps you can comment on it. I’m going to be going to India, I’ll be there three weeks from today as a matter of fact. And when I applied for my visa, they wanted me to sign a paper that said I would not preach or do anything religious in the country. Which means that the, you know, I couldn’t, if you want to push it, I couldn’t pray, I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t whatever in the name of the Lord.
And a Mission that I developed a number of years ago, well we have missionaries there in India, and one of the things that I have learned from our missionaries there is that even though Islam is recognized perhaps as the number one persecutors of Christians in many areas, in India, Dave, Hinduism is starting to persecute Christians. And what they are doing there is that they are attempting, that is the Hindu religion, is attempting to get the government to stand with them to persecute Christians so there again, you would see the coming together of a religious entity as well as a governmental entity. Most people don’t think that Hindus persecute. But in some portions of the world, they’re doing that from what I understand. Your thoughts?
Well, that’s an excellent point and I’m glad you brought it up. There’s a fundamental difference. Now what you’re saying is absolutely true. I’ve been reading about it myself, but there is a fundamental difference. And the fundamental difference is Hinduism is not a proselytizing faith in the way that either Christianity or Islam is. The reason you’re seeing that persecution is motivated by defensive thinking. That is, Hinduism in fact, is on a relative decline whereas other religions are increasing, Hinduism is kind of holding steady or declining, going down. And they’re feeling that. They feel threatened. So it’s a response to feeling threatened. When Christians are proselytizing in India, what that does is they’re actually proselytizing most of the people at the bottom of the caste system, because they have something to offer those people that the Hindu caste system does not offer. And that’s attracting them and that’s upsetting the whole social order over there and that’s what’s driving it, okay? And so it’s not like the persecution of Christians by Hindus is going to start happening here in the United States with Hindus who are coming over from India, it’s localized to that particular area where Hindus are feeling like they have to defend their faith from the infiltration.
As we move now into our final segment here, we’ve tried to undertake, really ladies and gentleman, in a very surface way. Because we could spend hours and hours on this matter of Christian persecution. We tried to define what it is and what it’s not, where it’s taking place, and who primarily is the instigator. Now, we’ve mentioned that when it comes to the who, that the worst offender now, is the Islamic ideology and is what our guest Dave Bailey just said in the last segment, that what makes Islamic ideology so critical in this matter is that they as a religion, as the religion component political system, they are bent on dominating the world. So there is a great zealousness behind what they’re doing. And because of Sharia Law concept it empowers the individual to take power or action into their own hands.
Now there are some governments in the Middle East, some of the worst offenders are Pakistan and Somalia and Sudan, these are Muslim nations by and large, but it is the combining with the empowering of the individual, that’s an interesting point we want to bring out here. But the reality of it is that Christian persecution is undeniable. It is on the increase. There are more being persecuted now than, as far as we can let tell by looking back than has ever happened. The drivers of persecution though, regardless of the circumstance will always surface where the citizens or the nation’s leaders deny the God of the Bible. They deny the person of Jesus Christ and they embrace the lie that says that man can become God. At that point then things began to really unwind.
So whether the ideology is Emperor worship with Nero, communism with Stalin, or Nazism with Hitler, or Islam with Muhammad, or Hinduism we’re talking about, any of these, the question is, “What can we do about it as Christian persecution is increasing around the world?” And Gary, I want to go to you first, from your perspective here, you just said you’re going to be going to China, you’ve already suffered a little bit because they basically said, “We won’t let you into our country unless you promise not to speak about Christ,” that’s an amazing thing, Gary. So it’s happening in a lot of ways but persecution, you said earlier, shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who truly live Godly, but build that out just a little bit about the reality of persecution, just so we know, that regardless of where we are, what country we may find ourself in, that point that Christ made, is eternally true.
Well, it is, and of course I’m actually going to India, not China this time.
Did I, I got that wrong, India, yes sir.
But it’s the same neck of the woods, I guess, but yeah, I am doing that. But you know, you talk about Second Timothy 3, in verse 12 that says, that we can expect persecution to a certain degree. But I also think of First Peter and I would encourage every one of you who are listening today to do some studying in First Peter, because it’s dedicated to preparing us, equipping us for suffering. And in First Peter chapter 4 in verse 12, it says, “Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice in as much as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. That when his glory shall be revealed, yea may be glad also with exceeding joy.” Then he says, “If yea be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are yea.” And then of course it goes on so you see, that goes back to what our definition of persecution is.
Being persecuted for the cause of Christ. Not for something we might do, necessarily, that would be wrong, but being persecuted or reproached because the fact that we are standing for Jesus Christ. So in reality I think that throughout the pages of scripture, Sam, you can see that persecution should not come as a surprise even though it is true that we here in the United States of America, don’t face persecution to any degree compared to many other countries of the world do.
And Gary, you did not say it, but I’m gonna just put in, ladies and gentleman, we should therefore pray for those. We may not be able to help directly, but we can pray for those. But we can also, there are entities, Open Doors U.S.A. and others are entities that help them. There are other groups and us bringing these things to attention are a part of what we can do. Dave, let me go to you right now because the fact that persecution clearly something that’s clear, we know that, but as I said earlier, when governments get involved in actually persecuting their people, about the only thing that can stop that are other governments and to a large extent, the U.S. government has probably had as much to do with stopping persecution in countries that have persecuted their people more than anybody perhaps in time.
And just two days ago, Sam Brownback, Governor Sam Brownback was approved, just narrowly, by the U.S. Senate to become the first Ambassador at large for religious liberty. I think this is one of his issues as well, but speak a little bit Dave, as to what governments can do, what our government through policy can do to help limit and stop the degree of Christian persecution we’re seeing around the world.
I thank you. The first thing I would say is remember we live in a democracy. And so if we expect our government to take the right actions, we ourselves have to be educated. So my recommendation to everyone is take the time to understand Islam. Even if it’s just a little bit, even if it’s in bits and chunks, don’t avoid the subject. I think one of our great problems in this country is people know it’s an unpleasant subject and they just avoid it like the plague. But that self-imposed ignorance basically makes it impossible for our leaders to make the right decisions because we’re either electing the wrong people to lead us or we’re not holding them to our principles. Because we’re not even aware that those principles are under threat.
With that in mind I have a newsletter called Islam Update, and if you contact this station say you’d like to subscribe to it, just do that and word will get back to me and I will provide that with you. And it’s simply current events throughout the world with regard to Islam and you can just see it in yourself from news reports. Not from me, from reports from the news and you can form your own conclusions. The other thing we can do as far as our leaders are concerned is beware of entanglements. We keep trying to turn Islam into something that it isn’t.
And that case that I brought up about Afghanistan in 2006, the most significant thing about that guy who was caught converting to Christianity and was put on trial for his life and was ready to be killed, but through last minute actions he was declared insane and sent off to Italy, the key thing to keep in mind is that all took place under a government that we helped establish. Now how the heck does that happen? The other part of it is the practical extermination of Christianity in the Middle East, largely in Iraq, that didn’t start with ISIS. That started when we came in and took over Iraq and the key point there is trying to set up democratic institutions doesn’t solve the problem if fundamentally you have a people that want to be governed by Sharia Law. You just get a democratic version of Sharia Law, which essentially is what we have in Iran, okay? And so that is so important.
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