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Posts Tagged ‘martyrs’

On June 7th, Muslims in Nigeria destroyed the Catholic Cathedral of St. Patrick in the northern capital city of Maiduguri.  Recently, as many as 16 Nigerians have died in the most recent daily attacks.  Furthermore, estimates are that nearly 500 people have been killed since the April election of that countries first Christian president.  There have been other churches bombed, and an estimated 40,000 people have fled from the northern, mostly Muslim north.  The Islamic group claiming responsibility have even killed an Islamic leader who opposed the ongoing attacks.

I know I repeat myself, but we need to educate ourselves.  Christians are the most persecuted group on earth.  That’s not just a saying, it is a statistic and a fact.  According to the Zenit article below, a Christian is killed every five minutes in the world, not accidentally, but solely because he or she is a Christian.  And those numbers are in large part children.  This ongoing persecution is happening in Egypt, Pakistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria…and on and on.  With the exception of Communist countries China and North Korea, the rest of the top 10 most dangerous countries for Christians are Muslim.   

The sociologist in the article below comes very close to speaking the plain truth at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, he tells the participants that unless something is done about the approximately 100,000 Christians killed every year, “interfaith dialogue” is meaningless.  To that I say, “Amen.”   

ROME, JUNE 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A sociologist representing a European security organization says that the number of Christians killed each year for their faith is so high that it calculates to one martyr’s life being taken every five minutes.

Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported this data at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, which concluded today in Hungary. The conference was sponsored by the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and included a variety of high-level representatives from the three monotheistic religions, as well as political and social leaders.

Introvigne reported that Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.

If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results,” he stated.

Egyptian diplomat Aly Mahmoud said that in his country laws have been passed that will protect Christian minorities, for example, prosecuting those who give speeches that incite hatred and banning hostile crowds outside churches.

“However, the danger is that many Christian communities in the Middle East will die from emigration, because all Christians, feeling threatened, will flee,” he said.

The diplomat suggested Europe prepare for “a new wave of emigration, this time from Christians fleeing the persecutions.”

For his part, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman for the Russian Orthodox patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, reminded that “at least 1 million” Christian victims of persecutions are children.

Emphasis mine.

ZENIT – Sociologist: Every 5 Minutes a Christian Is Martyred.

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One of the most popular posts from the last few months is the one I did outlining the crisis in the Ivory Coast.  I thought I should update everyone.

As of two days ago, the former president, Laurent Gbagbo is reportedly still alive and under house arrest.  The country has just resumed cocoa bean production and export, but situation in the Ivory Coast is far from better.

New graves are discovered weekly and 30,000 displaced persons are still living in the mission outside of Duekoue, which I mentioned in the Original Post.  If you remember from the OP, that was a little mission, hardly equipped to handle that number of refugees.  When encouraged to go home, the refugees express fear that the attackers will return and kill them, so they remain on the grounds of the mission, the Salesian parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.

But many doubt reconciliation can be achieved and entire villages in the west, close to the border with Liberia, remain devastated by abuses from both sides.

A UN human rights team has begun probing killings in Abidjan’s Yopougon district after UN workers on Friday found 68 bodies in 10 graves.

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said meanwhile he intends to investigate massacres by both sides in a conflict which raised fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.

Nearly 30,000 displaced people are sheltering in a Catholic mission at Duekoue in the west while more than 100,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring Liberia.

“They told us to go back to our homes but those who killed our brothers — are they not going to come back?” said one frightened resident at the mission.

The Salesians have set up an emergency appeal, mostly aimed at humanitarian relief agencies.  However, perhaps you can help as well.  Donate here.  (the site is in Spanish)

And as always, our number one obligation as Christians is to lift up our prayers to Almighty God, who is our help and our shield.

Read more about the situation in Cote d’Ivoire here.

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Are you familiar with what is happening in the Ivory Coast?  That is the African country with the contentious presidential election last fall, which most Westerners would not have noted at all if it weren’t for the fact that the Ivory Coast happens to be the largest producer of cocoa beans.  So those of us chocoholics may have read the headlines a few months ago that our chocolate may be rationed. But as to the details of what is happening in the Ivory Coast, who really knows and who cares and anyway, the reporting on it has been woefully superficial, so you know, who cares?

Well actually, I care…and not only because of the impact on cocoa bean production.  And I think you should care too.  Because if you are reading this weblog, the situation in the Ivory Coast probably affects you, too.

To bring you up to speed, in case you are one of the 98% of Americans who have no idea what is happening there: the election last fall resulted in a Northerner winning, and the incumbent Southerner refusing to leave office, and civil violence ensued and continues.   The “international community”, whoever that is, has found the election to be valid and support the Northerner’s cause.  The U.N. has “troops” there to uh, protect something, maybe civilians and of course the usual aid groups like the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders are also there.  But the largest charitable organization on the ground in the Ivory Coast is the Roman Catholic church.  That is because the Ivory Coast has been an increasingly Catholic Christian nation in the last decades.  In the 1980s, the estimate of Christians was 1/8th of the population.  However, recent estimates are that nearly 1/3 of the population are Christians, largely Catholic Christians.

The other large faith tradition in the Ivory Coast is Islam.  Perhaps 1/4th of the population are Muslims.

Demographically, the northern areas of the country have more Muslims, receiving a large influx of immigrants from Muslim neighbors to the north.  The southern parts of the country are where the Christian populations have remained and thrived.

Today, I read the sad news that an estimated 1,000 civilians from the southern village of Duekoue have been found massacred.  The machete-hacked bodies were found by aid workers in the places in which they fell.  The UK Telegraph report says that these civilians were killed by supporters of the Northern winner after his forces gained control over the village in the ongoing civil conflict.

An estimated 40,000 civilians fled to to the local Catholic mission, which is sheltering them as best they can, but the priests report that they are desperately low on food.

The Telegraph report has the usual quote from a U.N. official in charge who says they had no idea the killings were occuring.  (I would think it is hard not to notice 40,000 people running to the church, and the sounds of 1,000 souls being slaughtered likewise would seem hard to miss.)

Anyway, I’m blogging about this not because of what the newspaper reported, but what it failed to report.  The paper tells us that the supporters of the Northern winner slaughtered thousands of Southern villagers.  What it didn’t tell us was that the folks who died were predominantly Christians, living in a predominantly Christian town and those who murdered them were predominantly Muslim, coming in from Muslim territories.  That is the underlying reality to the political situation and civil violence.  To continue to ignore the importance of this obvious religious violence is proof again of the brazen bias of the major media.

For instance, despite the liberal BBC erroneously reporting 3 days ago that it was the forces of the incumbent president (a Catholic) who was doing the butchering in Duekoue, I note that they have not printed a retraction in light of the today’s revealed atrocities of the (Muslim) rebels.  In fact, reviewing the BBC reporting of the past days infuriated me for its bias, carefully edited reporting and slanted headlines.  The primary method taught in journalism schools must be how to report only the facts that support the opinion the media puppet-masters decide you should form, and the shameful BBC reporting is proof that they are nothing if not leaders in the sleight-of-hand shenanigans of the liberal press.

I have said it before, but the most persecuted faith people in our world today are we Christians.  The mainstream media will not tell us that. But it’s true

As for me, I’ll be praying for the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, a Roman Catholic and a man who very possibly may be killed by rebel forces in the coming days.  When his government falls, I believe we will be looking at the next Ethiopia, the next Somalia, the next Nigeria or the next Sudan. I’ll be looking forward to how the liberal press will gussy up that tragic development.

***Please pray for our Christian brethren in the Ivory Coast, and persecuted Christians throughout the world.  May God bring the martyred to eternal rest in Him and extend mercy and justice to the living and the dead.***

 

Note: I just stumbled upon this blog under the Telegraph’s banner which also derides the biased press coverage.  Check out Why does media coverage of conflicts such as Ivory Coast ignore history, religion and demographics? by Ed West.

 See update as of May 12, 2011

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Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Or distress? Or famine? Or nakedness? Or danger? Or persecution? Or the sword?  (As it is written: For your sake, we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.)  But in all these things we overcome, because of him that has loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.                                            –Romans 8:35-39

Last Friday, a yacht with four Americans was hijacked by pirates south of Oman.  Since then, American warships have been tailing the pirated yacht back to the pirates’ base in Somalia. From CBS News today, comes this sad ending to the Somali pirate hostage situation:

A pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy destroyer shadowing a hijacked yacht with four Americans aboard Tuesday. Then gunfire erupted, the military said. U.S. special forces rushed to the yacht only to find the four Americans fatally wounded.

 The experienced yacht enthusiasts from California and Washington are the first Americans killed by Somali pirates since the start of attacks off East Africa several years ago. One of the American couples on board had been sailing around the world since 2004 handing out Bibles.

Like a good number of people, I have been wondering what on earth made these four Americans sail in such dangerous waters.  Now we know:  they were acting as missionaries in the twilight of their years, bringing the good news to people who need to hear it.  Their yacht was stocked with bibles which they took to many third world locations.  From the Santa Monica newspaper, where their home parish is located, comes this story of how their faith community is grieving, and also telling us a bit more about these unconventional missionaries.  I am posting the entire article with the paper’s updates.

They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson tells Santa Monica Patch.

(Updated at 1:37 p.m.): On Tuesday afternoon, Torgerson shared with Santa Monica Patch his thoughts about Jean and Scott Adam.

“They’re an extraordinary couple, a wonderful part of our community,” the pastor said. “Jean had been my dentist, so I got to know her that way.”

The couple was highly active in the church, and two sons of Jean attended St. Monica Catholic High School.

They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Torgerson said.

The pastor said that, after working hard all their lives, Jean and Scott decided to “make a difference” in their retirement.

“Retirement for them was relaxed, but they went to the far-flung corners of this world and visited the poorest of the poor,” bringing Scripture to them, he said.

He added that the Scripture that was read during Mass on Tuesday morning says, “if you’re faithful, you’ll win the crown”—and, according to Torgerson, “that’s what they did.”

“They died doing what they wanted to do,” he said.

(Updated at 12:29 p.m.): The Rev. David Guffey, a priest who is in residence at the church, reflected on Jean and Scott Adam at the 12:10 p.m. Mass on Tuesday.

He told the congregation, which had gathered for the regular daily service, that “we do so today with special feelings of sadness and sympathy.”

He said the news was “tragic,” and that Torgerson is “working with” the grieving family of Jean and Scott Adam.

A funeral and a memorial service are pending, Guffey said.

Guffey noted that, last weekend, parishioners had lit a candle in the hope that the couple would return home safely.

“We pray for their eternal rest, and for their family and friends,” he said.

Torgerson said Tuesday that Jean and Scott were “faithful people” and that Jean sang in the church choir, according to City News Service.

“They were people that worked hard all their lives and decided in their retirement that they wanted to do something to make a difference in this world,” he said.

Family and friends of Jean and Scott Adam are mourning the deaths of the St. Monica Catholic Church parshioners, who were killed by Somali pirates early Tuesday. At the church’s morning Mass, Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson said the parish was heartbroken at the news, according to The Associated Press.

The couple had been on a voyage around the world, distributing Bibles.

The Bibles, which numbered in the thousands, had been donated to Jean and Scott Adam through grants and gifts. They referred to their effort to distribute them as “friendship evangelism.”

A “wonderful turn of events have occurred as a result of this endeavor,” the couple wrote on their Web site, SVQuest.com.

“They loved the experiences they were having with the people they were meeting and the places they were going,” Scott Stolnitz, a longtime friend of theirs, told CNN. “We asked them once if they ever looked forward to living on land again, and they both, believe it or not, said no.

“They were not proselytizing evangelicals,” he continued. “They were using their Bible mission as a way to break the ice in the Christian community, particularly in the Pacific.”

“This is all of our worst nightmares,” Stolnitz told the Los Angeles Times.

Stolnitz said the 70-year-old Scott Adam was laid-back, had a dry sense of humor and earned a theology degree later in life, after retiring as a film executive. Jean Adam was a retired dentist, according to CNN.

“She wore her heart on her sleeve,” Stolnitz said.

He added that, even though Jean Adam often got seasick on boats, she wanted to be with her husband and decided to sail with him.

“The Quest started an ‘around-the-world’ trip in mid December of 2004 after sailing her to the States from New Zealand in 2002,” the couple wrote on their site. “This is planned to be an eight or ten year voyage.”

The couple was aware of the dangers of piracy, friends told the Los Angeles Times. They said Scott had considered shipping the boat instead, but later decided not to after learning that a rally of yachts was headed to the Arabian and Red Seas.

Ten days ago, Jean and Scott said via e-mail that, in an effort to avoid being located by pirates, they would be out of communication for almost two weeks, according to BBC News.

“They basically had said, ‘We’re not going to be in communication for 10 or 12 days because we know this is territory where there could be problems and we don’t want pirates or other people to know our location,’ ” said Robert Johnston, a professor who taught Scott at the seminary he attended.

According to St. Monica’s Annual Reports, Jean and Scott Adam donated money to the Partners in Mission effort benefiting St. Monica Catholic High School. They donated to the effort’s campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

I do not understand what happened, why the pirates would kill these hostages with the US Navy right behind them.  But I believe that the Adams and their passengers died because they were following a call to witness for our faith, as part of the new evangelization.  And because of their followership, they put themselves into a dangerous position leading to their deaths.  This makes them martyrs for the faith, though maybe not technical martyrs, I don’t know how that is defined by the Church.

But I will pray for the eternal rest of their souls, for mercy for everyone involved, and comfort for their family and friends.  I thank God for their lives and example.

As it is written–

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

-Psalms 116.

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“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.   If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you,  ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.  And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,  because they do not know the one who sent me.”                                      John 15: 18-21

 

for His name's sake: Mourners praying for the Nigerian martyrs

The slaughter of 500 200 Christians by Muslims in Nigeria on Sunday is a horrific reminder that for Christians throughout the world, modern-day martyrdom is not only conceivable, in some places it is highly likely.  Does this shock you?  perhaps it may, if you are used to getting your news from the American major television networks and almost all print media.  Perhaps you have read news clippings from time to time about ‘massacres’, something about “sectarian violence” or “political unrest” or some other vague phrase and assumed that there was rioting or another civil uprising going on.  If the article mentioned that the violence was against Christians, it may not have been until the very bottom, to which you were most likely not to have read.  And undoubtedly the fact that the attackers were Muslims was not mentioned at all.

The German magazine Der Spiegel had a three-part series on Christian persecution in February.   If you haven’t read the article, you should.  The Der Spiegel articles (written under a Staff byline) called Christians “the most persecuted religious group in the world” and attributed most of this to “[t]he rise of Islamic extremism”.   But then it goes on to detail persecution up to and including murder in such “secular” and “Westernized” countries like Turkey and Egypt.  So perhaps it’s not a form of radicalized Islam.  Perhaps it is just…Islam.

The systematic persecution of Christians in the 20th century — by Communists in the Soviet Union and China, but also by Nazis — claimed far more lives than anything that has happened so far in the 21st century. Now, however, it is not only totalitarian regimes persecuting Christians, but also residents of Islamic states, fanatical fundamentalists, and religious sects — and often simply supposedly pious citizens.  

 “[S]upposedly pious citizens” would be practicing Muslims.  Hmmm. If you think the Muslim persecution is limited to radical Islamic states, you are mistaken, and the magazine, though it takes care not to actually say this (in fact, says the opposite) makes it clear that a whole host of abusive practices, prejudice, discrimination and violence is occuring to Christians in supposedly non-theocratic Islamic countries.  According to Der Spiegel

Government-tolerated persecution occurs even in Turkey, the most secular and modern country in the Muslim world, where around 110,000 Christians make up less than a quarter of 1 percent of the population — but are discriminated against nonetheless. The persecution is not as open or as brutal as what happens in neighboring Iraq, but the consequences are similar. Christians in Turkey, who numbered well over 2 million people in the 19th century, are fighting for their continued existence….

 If you didn’t do the math, that is a loss of over 1.9 million Christians in one centuryover 95% of the Christian community is gone.  Where did these Christians go?  well, murdered mostly, Der Spiegel hints.  Here is how the citizens of the supposedly “Westernized” (read: civilized) Turkey view of Christians:   

According to a survey carried out by the US-based Pew Research Center, 46 percent of Turks see Christianity as a violent religion. In a more recent Turkish study, 42 percent of those surveyed wouldn’t accept Christians as neighbors.

 Egypt is not any better:   

Even in Egypt, a secular country, converts draw the government’s wrath. The religion minister defended the legality of the death penalty for converts — although Egypt doesn’t even have such a law — with the argument that renunciation of Islam amounts to high treason. Such sentiments drove Mohammed Hegazy, 27, a convert to the Coptic Orthodox Church [note: part of the universal Catholic Church], into hiding two years ago. He was the first convert in Egypt to try to have his new religion entered officially onto his state-issued identity card. When he was refused, he went public. Numerous clerics called for his death in response. Copts make up the largest Christian community in the Arab world and around 8 million Egyptians belong to the Coptic Church. They’re barred from high government positions, diplomatic service and the military, as well as from many state benefits. Universities have quotas for Coptic students considerably lower than their actual percentage within the population.  [italics mine]

 That slaughter of the millions of pigs in Egypt last year in a shameful and embarrassingly backward, uneducated and woefully unscientific response to “swine flu” fears?  All were owned by Christians.  In Egypt, according to Der Spiegel, the real fear of Muslims isn’t the “swine flu”:  it’s “the Christian virus.”

Christians beware! The NGO Open Doors keeps track of Christian persecution. Christians, pray for our brethren in these countries.

 For further enlightenment, read through the comments section of the Der Spiegel article for the expected outrage, political correctness and denials.

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