If you look at the top ten list of countries where it’s most dangerous to be a Christian, you’ll find that every one of them has been torn apart by violent war. In this episode of Neighborhoods & Nations, Steven Morales talks to Russell Moore about the impact of war on Christian persecution and what the church can do about it.
The US to withdraw all of its remaining troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban is now effectively in control, including in the capital, Kabul. On August 15th, 2021, United States forces withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban took government control. We’re told that this takeover proved to be a game changer, not only for women and ethnic minorities, but also for religious minorities, especially Christians who are seen as apostates.
Now, Afghanistan has always been a difficult place to be a Christian, but this event kicked it up to the number one country where it’s most dangerous to be a Christian. I mean, just so you know, the country that previously had that number one spot, North Korea, which has had such an intense level of persecution over a long period of time, that the average pressure on Christians in North Korea has stayed at maximum level over all spheres of life.
If you look at the list of the top ten countries where it’s most dangerous to be a Christian, you’ll find that they all have one thing in common: war. These regions are being torn apart by violent regimes.I mean, it almost feels like wherever there’s a war, Christian persecution seems to follow. Why is that? And what can we do about it?
So it’s not hard to believe that war and violence makes life harder, especially for Christians. Take Afghanistan, for instance, a country that has not known peace for more than 40 years. And if you’ve kept up with the news, you know, that doesn’t really look like things are getting any better, especially for Afghan Christians.
According to one report, when the Taliban took control, they got access to records and reports held by the former government, making it easier to identify Christians. Generally speaking, being Afghan means being Muslim. So becoming a Christian isn’t just changing what building you worship in on Sunday. It means facing immediate rejection from your family and friends. And if you’re on the Taliban’s list, you could be hunted down, violently, detained and killed. So this isn’t just like a hypothetical or possibility of what could happen. We hear these stories come in every day from Afghanistan and from many other countries, too.
So what should the church do when the nations rage? Well, for for those who are immediately in the target site of a particular war, there are obviously going to be way of burying one another’s burdens that are going to emerge immediately.
That’s Dr. Russell Moore. He’s the editor-in-chief at Christianity Today, and he’s a really helpful thinker on issues like these. So in Ukraine right now, there are churches that are caring for people whose homes have been destroyed in bombings.
And also in Russia, where there are churches that are speaking, there was a letter that went out from evangelical pastors all over Russia. Great courage in saying this is not a just action. Dr. Moore is referring to an open letter from earlier this year with 400 signatures from Russian Baptists and Pentecostals affiliated with churches or seminaries in Russia, calling on the church in Russia to not be silent on the injustices happening in Ukraine. The example is highly commendable, but maybe you’re thinking, well, I’m not a Russian clergyman, I’m just a dude or a girl sitting on my couch with my phone halfway across the world.
What can I do? Tweet about it. Sometimes there will be Christians who will kind of dismiss hashtags. And I stand with the people of Afghanistan, or I stand with the people of Ukraine as though that is just trivial and meaningless. And I don’t think it is. I think instead what that tends to do is to call our attention to the fact that we actually do have a responsibility to pray and to in every way that we can remind people that there are vulnerable people who are there and who are worthy of our concern.
If an evil doer or evil force or evil system can make the people they want to plow under invisible, then they can evade accountability for that. Social media has a lot of downsides, but if it ever had an upside, it’s this we can be loud about the things that are wrong in this world and hold the people in power accountable for their actions.
So if there weren’t people calling attention to, for instance, the weaker population in China to say, look at what’s happening with these concentration camps, all people would tend to see is the fact that China is a world power. Nobody wants war with China, and China is a global economic superpower. Everyone wants to trade with China. And that means that we just don’t see and we turn our heads away from these people who can’t do anything for us but are created in the image of God and who matter.
One could argue that social media has helped accelerate awareness of crises in other nations, but there is still a very real way in which many of us just feel disconnected from the needs around the world. And if you asked me point blank, Hey, what can I do? The two most immediate answers that I would give you are to pray and give. Pray for those affected by war and give to organizations that are responding to urgent and spiritual needs in those areas. You can pray and you can give. And yet it’s possible that in a few months’ time, there will be an opportunity to care for refugees from that country or other needs that have made their way from the nations to your neighborhood. You’re just not aware of it yet.
There may well be a tiny congregation with a little boy who’s or a little girl coloring on a piece of paper while the pastor is calling the congregation to pray for the people of Afghanistan or the people of Ukraine or some other invaded or war-torn country. That little boy or that little girl may well end up being a general or NATO commander or president United States and may be making decisions about future sorts of situations and being shaped informed right now in that.
And so you just don’t know what the Lord is doing with the depth and the height of the influence that you have at the moment. Thanks for watching this video. I mentioned prayer and giving as immediate calls to action that you can do today.
If you struggle with knowing what or even how to pray, I want to encourage you to check out our podcast: Pray the Word with David Platt. Every day, there’s a new passage to read short, devotional and prayer for the nations, all from David. So you can find that anywhere podcasts are available and if you want to give.
You should definitely check out Urgent. Urgent is an initiative from Radical that comes alongside indigenous believers in some of the hardest-to-reach people, groups and places on earth. There we make disciples, multiply churches and provide humanitarian relief. A lot of crazy good work is done there so you can find out more and give at urgentneeds.org. All right. That’s it. See ya.