“I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.” Those were the words uttered by Sarkis el Zakhm when Islamists stormed his house in a Syrian village and warned everyone present to convert to Islam. The militants then slaughtered Sarkis, his grandfather and cousin in cold blood.
Unfortunately, these kind of murderous rampages against Christians are becoming common around the world. Last weekend, Islamists murdered 85 churchgoers in Pakistan, marking the bloodiest attack on Christians in Pakistani history. The same weekend in Kenya, Islamists gunned down five-dozen non-Muslims at a popular shopping mall. In Egypt last month, Christians experienced the worst anti-Christian violence in some seven centuries. In just three days, 38 churches were destroyed and 23 vandalized; 58 homes were burned and looted; and six Christians were killed and seven kidnapped. And just two weeks ago, in Northern Nigeria, Islamic militants burned 100 houses and slaughtered 142 people in a small Christian village.
Given the scope and intensity of the violence against Christians, one would expect the Western media to be outraged. Yet, the silence in the West has been deafening. The most deadly attack ever on Pakistani Christians didn’t even make the front page of the New York Times and was buried on page seven in the Washington Post. Those that did report the attacks often downplayed the glaring religious motive. The Christian Science Monitor actually posed that the Pakistani terrorists didn’t target a church because they harbored animosity towards Christians. They were simply preying on the vulnerable.
But, Christians are being specifically targeted. Numerous studies indicate that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. According to Open Doors, some 100 million Christians face religious persecution every day in at least 60 countries.
As believers, we need to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Though the media may ignore their plight, groups like Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern, provide regular updates and tangible ways to help. We need to take advantage of these opportunities and pray for the persecuted church. May it remain faithful like Sarkis el Zakhm.