Today, in many parts of the world, though most intensely in the Middle East, Christians are wearing a crown of thorns and walking the Via Dolorosa. They are hanging on the cross. They are suffering solely because they are Christian. We in the free world watch helplessly as our brothers and sisters in faith are persecuted, driven from their homes and slain.
We witness their arrests, torture, the destruction of their property, and can do little. Prayer is the most powerful support we can give. Indeed, it is God’s help that they need most of all. Our words are feeble in the midst of the onslaught by ruthless terrorists.
Even the hundreds of graphic images seem inadequate to prompt large-scale assistance to those living under oppressive regimes or targeted by jihadists. Of course, this is not the first time that Christians have suffered for their faith, and we all know too well that it won’t be the last.
The volume of horrific news and the dizzying speed of updates can seem overwhelming. Millions of innocent Jews and Christians are being targeted for their beliefs. Terrorists seem intent on destroying all signs of Christianity in the Mid-East, across north Africa and part of Southeast Asia.
The persecution of Christians and Jews has now spilled over from the Middle East into Europe, because terrorists are not satisfied with gaining territory per se. Like other demonically-inspired ideologues of the past, they seek global domination of persons. The cost is blood. It is also pain, fear and destruction. Like an uncontrolled cancer, it spreads and kills.
Governments exist to make nations secure and free. Governments and laws ought to protect people, to preserve their God-given inherent human rights and freedoms. Do not the world’s governments have an obligation to take action to relieve the suffering of victims of genocide? Nations rush to aid victims of natural disasters. How much worse is it to be suffering for one’s faith, suffering because one wants to worship according to one’s faith? Israel is now fighting almost alone for peace and the security of all Israelis—Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. They are fighting for the lives of their citizens and their survival as a nation.
Apart from Israel, minority populations of Christians in the Middle East have no resources, no means to defend their communities or their families and no government interested in protecting them.
Let us pray that the Lord, who knows well their pain, will continue to strengthen those who are suffering, that he grant them awareness of his loving, powerful presence and the hope of a life united intimately with his own, both in this world and the next.
Beyond our pledge of prayer, let us challenge the media to accurately report the persecution and genocide of Christians and challenge our elected representatives to offer relief services to victims and employ all available means to halt their persecution.
Sr. M. Michele Jascenia, SCMCis a religious with the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church and resides at their Holy Family Motherhouse in Baltic, Ct. She teaches elementary school and is a freelance writer.