Thursday, July 07, 2005

And In Further News ...

I've been following and publicizing (to the best of my ability and as the Lord wills) the laws and events against and triumphs of the Persecuted Church since the late 90s. It's a frustrating work -- the indifference is overwhelming (and that's just the Western church!). You do what you can; publish a web site (which I did -- the late, hopefully lamented Brother's Keeper), write letters to leaders, to the imprisoned, to media outlets and whatever else comes up.

The apathy of media outlets (or perhaps the outright hostility) is the most frustrating thing, I think. So much could be done if only people could read or hear about what's going on. Most of the things that happen just get ignored; if something does make it into the newspaper, it's either by accident, or because a Westerner was involved. And while an incident might just be barely important enough to notice, it's usually not deemed important enough to place where someone might actually see and read it.

For example, about 3 years ago or so, several aid workers were shot in an office in Pakistan. (Check the second story down). My local paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer carried about one-and-a-half column inches -- on the back left lower corner of the front section. I'm only surprised I noticed it.

Or, as another example -- roughly three months ago, the media became aware of the situation in Darfur in the Sudan. If you weren't aware of the ongoing situation in the Sudan, you might have been shocked and dismayed to learn about the raids and massacre. What they didn't tell you was that this was nothing new. For more than 15 years, the Islamic north has been making war on the Christian and Animist South, starving them by withholding aid and raiding them for children who are enslaved and often forcibly converted to Islam by their masters. Don't take my word for it. Here's a report from Human Rights Watch from 1995. It hasn't gotten substantially better -- it just took a Darfur to get someone's attention -- although not for long. When's the last time you heard a news report about Darfur?

It isn't as though there are no reliable sources for these stories. When I started Brother's Keeper in 1997, there were only a few outlets -- mostly ministries like Open Doors and Voice of the Martyr, who had been fighting the good fight almost unnoticed. Now there are literally dozens: ministries, yes, but also journalists, human rights organizations and groups devoted specifically to a country or people. If the stories aren't being covered by the mainstream media, the only reason is that they don't care. And if the Western church isn't speaking out to protest this, then what is our excuse? In Hebrews 13:3, the Apostle Paul commanded us:

"Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. " (KJV)

I have heard people say they hate to hear about these things because they feel helpless. No believer in Christ is ever helpless. If you aren't in a position to do anything else, you can always pray. When we hear from the battlefield where our brothers and sisters in Christ face oppression, it is our prayers they covet more than anything else.

So find out what's going on. Visit the links on the side. Subscribe to Forum 18 or Assist News. Read this blog. And then pray. Write letters, send faxes or e-mail. Send aid, as the Lord provides. But do something. There's no excuse not to. Even if you won't hear about it in the media.

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