Regardless of one’s beliefs about God, the holiday season is a time for family, friends, and reflection. For many, the holidays bring a sense of joy. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone.
In many countries – especially in the Middle East – Christians cannot celebrate Christmas as we do in the west. They are prohibited from observing one of the most important days in their religion by their governments, as well as terrorist groups that wish to oppress them further.
While we are concerned about holiday shopping and new year’s resolutions, Christians in certain nations are worried about being caught and punished by the authorities for practicing their faith. It’s vital that we remember these individuals and do all that we can to support them.
Christians Endure More Persecution During the Holiday Season
Open Doors USA explains that in some parts of the world, Christians experience more persecution during the holiday season than any other time of the year. For them, it is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ – but also a time to be aware of potential threats to their lives. They must be careful not to attract the attention of their government or Islamic terrorist groups, who target them for their faith.
What should be a joyful celebration is also a time of fear and danger for these believers, who risk their lives to practice their faith. There are many heartbreaking stories of those in the Middle East brutally murdered or imprisoned, solely for the crime of believing in Christ.
The Open Doors USA report details the plight of Christians in countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. One Syrian mother stated that they will have “special prayers” in church, but that they do not put up any decorations for fear of drawing the attention of Islamic extremists. Members of these radical groups have already threatened them with car bombs should they choose to practice Christianity outside the home.
Already this year, terrorists attacked a Methodist church in Pakistan, killing at least 11 people. Cairo residents remember the pain of last December’s church bombing. In 2015, the Somalian government made Christmas celebrations illegal to avoid increases in terrorist activity.
Christmas is also outlawed in Iran, forcing believers to observe the holiday in secret. One family told of the Christmas days when their families would decorate with non-Christmas decorations while they celebrated. If the police were to raid the home, they could say that they were merely having a birthday.
Unfortunately, many disciples of Christ are still victimized during the Christmas season despite the precautions they take. It is a heartbreaking reality in which they live.
Helping Persecuted Christians
Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Millions of Christians live in a state of perpetual peril – practicing their faith in secret to avoid the devastating consequences. There are several organizations that assist Christians who have been victimized by their governments or terrorist groups. Open Doors USA is one of them.
However, more will need to be done if we are to provide relief to those who are suffering for their faith. Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced that the U.S. would no longer fund the United Nations’ efforts to help believers who are experiencing persecution. Of course, this isn’t because the U.S. does not want to help these individuals. It’s because the U.N.’s efforts have not yielded positive results.
Instead of using our funding to help the U.N., we are making the plight of persecuted Christians a part of our national security strategy. Part of our agenda overseas is to eliminate ISIS and other terrorist groups that regularly terrorize Christians. The administration has made much progress in this endeavor over the past year.
With the rise in attacks on Christians worldwide, believers must also stand up to support those who are victims of persecution. As stated previously, many organizations work to make life easier for Christians living in oppressive environments. Here is a list. We’ll all need to do our part if we want to make a difference.