Western Christians enjoy many freedoms when it comes to their freedom. They are free to assemble in the houses of worship unhindered and free from the threat of physical harm. Christian radio, television, and publications stand beside mainstream secular media and is enjoying success and influence. Christians outwardly wear visible symbols of their faith in their clothing and jewelry without fear of reprisal. They are able to carry a Bible anywhere and engage people with the message of Jesus Christ. However, Christians around the world do not enjoy such freedom and luxury. In their new book, “Persecuted; The Global Assault of Christianity”, authors Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea bring to bear on the minds of the reader what the Pew Research Center, Newsweek, and other research authorities have found to be true through extensive research. In their words, “Christians are the single most widely persecuted religious group in the world today.” They show us that the persecutions Christians around the world face are not the western picture of persecution. Western Christians feel persecuted if they cannot pray in school, display their Bible in the office, or are rejected when they present the gospel to a lost person. Again, in the author’s words, “what we mean by persecution in this book is that there are Christians in the countries of focus who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, or killed for their faith.”
“Persecuted” takes a sobering look at the conditions that Christians are living in around the world. They acknowledge that all religions experience types of suffering (natural disasters, disease, famine, etc.). When it comes to persecution, their focus is “solely on the suffering inflicted on people at least in part because they are Christians – suffering they would not have had to endure if they were not believers in Jesus.” Before the authors share stories and examples of worldwide persecution, they give the causes of such persecution. They write, “Most persecution of Christians springs from one of three causes. First is the hunger for total political control, exhibited by the Communist and post-Communist regimes. The second is the desire by some to preserve Hindu or Buddhist privilege, as is evident in South Asia. The third is radical Islam’s urge for religious dominance, which at present is generating expanding global crisis. The chosen layout of the book is most helpful and interesting. Forms and types of persecution are specific to countries and individual customs. Basically the five primary subsets of the world’s population are highlighted.
The first subset, seen in chapter two: Caesar and God, highlights countries such as China, Vietnam, and North Korea. Christianity is a threat here due to the absolute rule of government leaders. The second subset, seen in chapter three: Post-Community Countries, highlights such countries such as Russia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. The freedom of Christianity is a threat here due to the practices of rule consistent with communism. The third subset, seen in chapter four: South Asia’s Christian Outcastes, highlights countries such as India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The evangelical nature of Christianity is a threat to the intense belief of Hindus and Buddhists that the people and land are ties to a specific faith. The fourth subset, seen in chapters five through eight: The Muslim World, highlight countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, and Indonesia. Christianity is at odds with the fastest-growing religion in the world today: Islam. The fifth subset, seen in chapter nine: Cruel and Usual Abuse, highlight such countries as Burma, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. In these regions that have a heavy militarized government, Christianity’s desire for an independent church is directly opposed to the wishes of self-serving governments.
“Persecuted” gives dozens and dozens of cases of persecution. There are too many to list them all. Here is a summary of the types of persecution that Christians are enduring simply because they are Christians: torture, rape, false imprisonment, seizure of personal property, homes burned, oppressing registration requirements, church raids, harassment, separate laws for Christians, no benefit of legal systems, church bombings, anti-conversion laws, and public execution. At the conclusion of the book, the authors offer a Call to Action: a list of activities everyone can be involved in to support the persecuted church worldwide. Such activities as prayer, reporting, legal action, and financial support to organizations working to stamp out persecution are offered. “Persecuted” is a marvelous work. It is informative, humbling, well-researched, and convicting. I believe it is a must read for all Christians. By doing so, the reader will be reminded of how blessed the Western Christian church is and how genuine sacrifice and surrender to the will of Christ is being lived out through the persecuted church. Too good to miss.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”