Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nigeria's Not-So-Silent Night

Boko Haram (the name means: Western education is sinful) has claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in Nigeria claiming the lives of over 30 people so far. The first, and deadliest of the five, occurred at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in a suburb of the capital city of Abuja and resulted in 27 deaths.  Due to fire and extensive damage to the church building, the death toll there is expected to rise. One witness to the St. Theresa's bombing saw a family of five perish in their car which was next to the explosion.  One report has angry Christian youth preventing the removal of bodies, demanding President Goodluck John see the devastation personally first.

Boko Haram  is a violent Islamist group loosely modeled on the Taliban and calls for a strict Islamic state in Nigeria.  They have primarily targeted security forces and state institutions but last year claimed responsibility for a series of Christmas Eve bombings targeting churches.  They regard Christians as well as Muslims who don't follow their brand of Islamic ideology as infidels.  The group claims members have traveled to both Somalia and Chad for training.

BBC coverage

The bombings are a shocking reminder that Mark Steyn's Christmas Eve column, Silent Night, was more than necessary.  As Steyn reminds us, the persecution of Christians is one of the most unreported stories in what used to be known as Christendom.  The practice of silence not only occurs among the media, but Christian leaders as well.  We can't let this be the last word (from Steyn's article):

When Lord Sacks, chief rabbi in England, rose in the House of Lords to speak about the persecution of Christians, he quoted Martin Luther King. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Nearly 17 years go, I was privileged to make a short-term trip to visit with Christians in Ukraine.  Back then we were told that Christians in the areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union believed we in our material comfort had forgotten them and they were praying for our persecution so that we would be reminded.  Still today, Christians around the world hear our silence almost as loudly as the beatings, the imprisonments and the bomb blasts.

Don't let another silent night, another silent year pass.  Get informed, write letters and donate to the cause of religious liberty. Here are three organizations you can begin supporting today:

Open Doors

Persecution Project

Christian Solidarity

Pray, Act, Give.  Start Today, right now.

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