George Bowers Sr.: Does anybody really care?
This past Sunday was the International Day Of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, but please don’t fret if you missed it. Our persecuted brothers and sisters need our prayers each and every day as they endure bitter torture, mistreatment, and death. Lest you think this cruel phenomenon ended with the Romans, a quick look around the world today will reveal otherwise.
Our sister denomination the EYN, or Nigerian Church of the Brethren, has been hit hard by Boko Haram terrorists. Most of the 210 kidnapped girls were from Brethren families and now Boko Haram leaders declare that these girls have converted to Islam and been married off. We can only begin to imagine the pain and horror they are enduring and that of their parents and grandparents who continue to suffer at having their daughters stolen at gunpoint and not knowing where they are or what they are going through.
In addition, the Islamic group has also killed over 3,000 EYN members and burned most of their churches. Twenty-six of EYN’s 50 districts have closed and they have forcibly taken over the denominational headquarters in Kwarhi. Over 96,000 Brethren alone have become refugees and it is an ongoing situation that no one seems concerned about anymore. This has become old news as the world’s media has moved on to more sensational hotspots. Meanwhile, our fellow believers endure unbelievable suffering and pain. Thankfully, the American Church of the Brethren has made $1.5 million available to the Nigerian Christians who are trying to simply survive.
Sadly, this abuse and slaughter is not limited to Nigeria. The Islamic State terrorists have also ravaged the church and her people in both Iraq and Syria. One 26-year-old believer was brutally murdered and had a cross burned into his face. Many others have been burned to death or executed and at least 700,000 people have become refugees, including Christians, Mandeans, Yezidis and others considered to be infidels by the terrorists. These extremists cut off tongues of those with whom they disagree, they cut off fingers of those caught smoking, and they kill for wearing blue jeans, which they consider to be a U.S. Army uniform. They also ordered some 4 million Iraqi females to undergo genital mutilation regardless of their religion.
Meanwhile in China, over 160 crosses were recently removed from churches and some church buildings were actually destroyed by the government. In Iran, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini continues to languish in prison for his faith and Christian businessmen and women in America are being sued for trying to faithfully practice their beliefs as well.
What can we do? We must stand with our brothers and sisters in prayer remembering them constantly before our heavenly father and we must urge our congressmen and president to pressure other governments as well as our own to provide protection for people of all faiths. Establishment of safe zones and other areas are vital and the advance of the Islamic State must be stopped and its brutality exposed. Please pray to God and please urge your elected officials to take notice and do something for our persecuted brothers and sisters.
Praying with you, George
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.