Is Becoming a Christian Now a Death Sentence?

When I was really little, I remember an evangelist that came to our church and preached a sermon on Christians being persecuted. He spoke of Christians in Africa that were being persecuted — even some killed — back then. He spoke of a missionary named J.W. Tucker that was killed by Congolese rebels in The Congo the day before Thanksgiving in 1964 just for being a Christian. But it scared me to death when he spoke of Christians in the United States being persecuted and even executed just for being Christians.

That can never happen! After all, our forefathers came to the “New World” in part to guarantee that all who lived here would have total freedom from persecution for their religious affiliation — even if they did NOT have a religion. The Constitution guarantees Americans the Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment. That assures Christians should have no concerns at all about being attacked for their expressions of Christianity.

But apparently, things are changing.

Daily Mail—The Muslim convert who allegedly beheaded a female co-worker was shouting Islamic phrases as he tore across the store wielding a knife, it has been claimed.  Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, was trying to convince workers that Islam teaches that the punishment is acceptable on Thursday, shortly before he was fired from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, according to local media. He returned the same day and lashed out at colleagues Colleen Hufford and Traci Johnson with a knife, police said. After being shot by sheriff’s deputy Mark Vaughan, who is also the firm’s CEO, in the wake of the horrific attack he has woken up in a hospital and is being questioned by police. And as the FBI investigates his conversion to Islam in connection with the killing, reports have emerged that Nolen was shouting Islamic phrases during the rampage. Nolen also spoke of the U.S. need to convert to Sharia Law.

The beheading occurred in 2014 and was tied directly to Islamic law. The murderer was later sentenced to death.

Yes, such killings thankfully are not frequent in the U.S. But the Muslim population is increasing at dramatic levels in the U.S. Though many Muslims do not consider themselves to be “activists,” there certainly are very serious demands for all Muslims in the Quran — their written guide as is The Holy Bible to Christians. I suggest every Christian needs to learn about the Muslim faith and the principles spelled out in Sharia Law — which is the law implemented in Muslim-majority nations that govern everyday lives for Muslims. Feel free to download or just read the tenets of Sharia Law: Key Tenets of Sharia Law

Does this mean Christians should fear Muslims? Not at all! But make sure you understand what many who are devout Muslims and believe in life under Sharia Law certainly believe killing all those who are not Muslims is not only called for but commanded in Sharia Law. This guy in Oklahoma certainly felt his act was justified.

Christians are facing persecution for their beliefs today in the U.S. — even if they do not rise to the level of execution. But they do exist — even in our schools.

Is prohibiting a Christian Christmas song to be shared at school persecution? It doesn’t rise to the level of physical attacks and even execution for one’s beliefs. But, who would have thought a decade ago that an American school would disallow not the singing, but just a piano version of “Joy To The World” at a school program?

I’m certain there’s a really slippery slope here. Twenty years ago, I doubt Nigerian Christians were afraid of execution just for being Christians.

Overseas It’s Way Different

ISIS-aligned jihadists have released a video claiming to show the execution of eleven blindfolded Christian men in Nigeria, in what analysts say was a barbaric act that was clearly timed to coincide with Christmas, according to reports.

“This is a message to Christians all over the world,” a masked man says in the one-minute video posted online by the terror group’s Amaq news agency. He claimed the killings at the hands of jihadists from the Islamic State West African Province were in retaliation for the death of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his spokesman. Baghdadi committed suicide in October during a U.S. special forces operation in Syria. No details were given about the victims, but ISIS said they were “captured in the past weeks” in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state.

The ISIS fighters wore beige uniforms with black masks. They each stood behind a Christian man. The leader shot one while the others were thrown to the ground and beheaded.

The news out of Nigeria is getting progressively worse as it is being reported that more than 300 people were killed in at least seven predominantly Christian villages across Nigeria in February and March of 2019, according to multiple sources that monitor persecution of Christians. “Since February 10, there have been at least 270 people killed in Kaduna State alone,” International Christian Concern confirms. “It has been reported that at least 70 Christians were killed during a 10-week span at the beginning of 2019 across the other Middle Belt states.”

In one early morning attack on the village of Karamai on Feb. 14, sources said 41 people died after 300 gunmen swarmed the village shouting “Allahu Akbar!” as they fired their weapons and ransacked people’s homes. It was reported almost all of those killed were women and children along with a few senior residents who were unable to run away.

Not Just in Africa

During the year 2016, some 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith around the world, according to a new study from the Turin-based Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR).

The director of CESNUR and leader of the study, Dr. Massimo Introvigne, told Breitbart News that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, and the numbers of those affected are staggering. “Christians are targeted primarily for two reasons,” Introvigne said, “first because their proclamation of peace disturbs more belligerent groups; and second, because their social teachings on life, family and poverty are opposed by powerful forces.”

“While in the past century, atheistic communist regimes were the greatest persecutors of Christians,’ Introvigne added, “the geopolitical landscape has changed considerably since then and the actors have changed as well. He continued,  “While ‘Communism’s last attacks’ are still responsible for some ill-treatment of Christians,” Introvigne told Breitbart, “Islamic ‘ultra-fundamentalism’ has taken its place as the number-one agent of persecution.”

Introvigne’s findings mirror those of other scholars and human rights groups. According to the “World Watch List,” for example, published by the Open Doors organization, nine out of the top ten countries where Christians suffer “extreme persecution” had populations that are at least 50 percent Muslim. The 2016 report found that “Islamic extremism is by far the most significant persecution engine” of Christians in the world today and that “40 of the 50 countries on the World Watch List are affected by this kind of persecution.”

Introvigne said that in Nigeria, “over the last 12 years, the most reliable estimates assess at more than 10,000 Christians killed by the Islamic ultra-fundamentalist organization Nigeria’s Boko Haram.”

While some groups, like Boko Haram, are private organizations, in a number of countries, “persecution of Christians is actually promoted by the governments,” Introvigne said. “Several Muslim countries still have laws punishing apostasy—converting from Islam to another religion,” he noted. “Others have laws against blasphemy, and some tend to consider any criticism of Islam as blasphemy.”

While tens of thousands of Christians are killed for their faith, they are just the tip of the iceberg and much persecution takes place on a daily basis that never makes news, according to Introvigne.

North Korea again tops the list of the 50 most dangerous countries to follow Jesus Christ. The 2019 World Watch List released Wednesday by Open Doors USA highlights where action is desperately needed to protect Christians.

President Trump has met with many of the leaders whose countries make the list, including China, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea. The Trump administration has made religious freedom a priority. Case in point – fighting for the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey. But there’s more the U.S. government can do and that’s the backbone behind this list.

The spread of radical Islam increases the danger of Christians worldwide. “Many Christians are being killed because of their faith,” said Father Daniel Alkhory, an Iraqi native. CBN News asked Alkhory why he stays while other priests have left due to safety concerns.

“I’m staying to stay with my people,” he responded. “So this is the only thing that is keeping me staying there and helping them because they need help now urgently. So if I am not going to be there who is going to help them?”

Iraq is number 13 on the watch list of countries where Christians face the most persecution. For the last 27 years, Open Doors USA has documented the most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Topping this year’s list is North Korea followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan.

Top 10 Countries Where Christians are Persecuted

1.    North Korea
2.    Afghanistan
3.    Somalia
4.    Libya
5.    Pakistan
6.    Sudan
7.    Eritrea
8.    Yemen
9.    Iran
10.  India

“We believe now based on our research that there are over 245 million Christians who live in areas of extreme or high persecution – that’s a lot,” David Curry, president & CEO of Open Doors USA told CBN News. Curry adds that violence against Christians increased dramatically this past year in China.

“They moved up from #41 to #27 on the list,” he told CBN News. “That’s a big jump. It’s a huge jump and it shows things are getting more difficult for China and it’s a big church so a lot of people are affected.”

NOKO

North Korea remains number one for the 18th year in a row, despite talks between President Trump and Dictator Kim Jong Un. “I would love to see human rights be a part of the discussion when you are talking about nuclear arms because you can tell within 30, 60, 90 days if conditions have improved for Christians in the labor camps,” Curry explained. “Right now, there are over 60,000 Christians in labor camps in North Korea. A lot of people don’t know that.”

Vice President Mike Pence reaffirmed that the White House will always be a champion for people of faith.

“Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of this administration,” Pence said.

Open Doors continues its efforts hoping governments, human rights groups, and other organizations will take notice, get involved and help believers.

For example, Bahrain dropped off the list this year after meeting with Christian leaders to set up a safe space for people to worship. Curry says it’s a role model in the Middle East.

Summary

Being a Christian is dangerous in much of the world today. How long do Christians in the U.S. have before similar persecution seen overseas make its way in violent form to our country? Of course, we all want to think and say, “Nothing like that can happen here! Our Constitution protects us. Our government will protect us from any violence from those who hate Christians.”

I felt that growing up — especially when as a little boy that evangelist told the story of missionary slaughters in The Congo: “That only happens in Africa, not here!”

That lady in Oklahoma went to work for another day of “doing the deal,” minding her own business, putting bread on the table for her children or buying a school outfit or two. She never thought the Islamist zealot who had talked to her about converting to his religion would go nuts and kill her. She just innocently let him know she was a Christian.

I’m certainly not trying to scare anyone. But we’ve seen drastic social changes in the U.S. — some of in the past four or five years — that were never thought possible just ten or twenty years ago!

The purpose today is to make sure you have facts to use to make decisions. I like you cannot predict the future. We cannot prepare our families or ourselves for every possibility we may face. But what we can is put the consideration of the “major” possibilities in the conversation to think about, pray about, and prepare a few “what-if’s” just in case we face one or more.

Christian Persecution is probably one of those things for which we need to prepare a “what-if” or two, don’t you think?

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