The Middle East Christians feel insecure as they continue to contemplate leaving their homelands where the economic and political situation in their countries is not a source of comfort. So they seek stable countries that can ensure their children a better future.
The advent of the new year 2021 has brought several concerns that are caused by the Corona pandemic which badly impacted all walks life causing rampant unemployment, poverty, hunger, crimes, and societies deeply shaken by instability.
Yet, among the most outstanding and lingering problems that cause worries is the Via Crucis of persecution of Christians which can be traced back to the emergence of Christianity, in its capacity as a faith leading to salvation and calling for love even for enemies.
In the Holy Bible, Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. (Matthew 10:22)
From this premise, it is due time to consider the situation of Christians worldwide, where in several countries the coronavirus and its ramifications have made the already oppressed Christians suffer a real via crucis of poverty, exclusion, and discrimination.
The Middle East Christians feel insecure as they continue to contemplate leaving their homelands where the economic and political situation in their countries is not a source of comfort. So they seek stable countries that can ensure their children a better future. With Lebanon in economic ruins, the situation is extremely grave in the wake of the titanic explosion the rocked Beirut Port on August 4, 2020. As for Iraq, good news has emerged in the towns and villages of the Nineveh plain in Iraq as half of the Christian families have returned to their former homes. Furthermore, the upcoming papal visit to Iraq, scheduled for March 5-8, 2021 will bring a glimmer of hope to the Christian Iraqis who will hopefully restore a stable life based on ensuring them a life based equality, respect for their dignity, and a bright future to come. The Holy Father’s intention to visit the Christians in Iraq is highly appreciated as they are in dire need for such a blessed advent.
On the other hand, the Annual World Watch List 2020 does not give much hope for the persecuted Christians as it presents a grim picture of the situation of Christians globally making it very clear that the persecution encountered continues to get worse. The report identifies that, “in 2020, over 260,000,000 Christians live in World Watch List top 50 countries where Christians are at risk of high, very high or extreme levels of persecution. This is up from 245,000,000 in 2019.” The report also emphasizes some important, negative changes within global trends of the persecution of Christians as it states that “countries which had previously avoided more intense levels of persecution, such as Sri Lanka and Burkina Faso have experienced destabilizing violence.”
In spite of these depressing report, it is important to note that there are still encouraging trends of global Christianity whereby both Africa and Latin America have more Christians than Europe; evangelical Christianity is at home in the global South; by 2050, Charismatic Christians will outnumber the non-religious and Christianity will top three billion adherents before 2050. Furthermore, by 2050, almost 1.3 billion Christians will live in Africa and over 100 million Holy Bibles per year will be printed by 2025.
It is due time to consider the Christians’ role in entrenching a civilization based on respect, love and support for all peoples regardless of their affiliations. In the Middle East, the Christians have all the time been building schools and universities that help produce educated generations, and erecting hospitals that help heal the ill thus helping produce healthy- and mentally-sound generations.
It is also due time to direct attention towards directing attention towards constructive issues by looking for means to initiate projects that eliminate poverty by upgrade other projects in the fields of industy, agriculture and health.
Despite all discouraging reports, it is hoped that the bright sun of peace and prosperity will shine again to cover all parts of the universe.
By: Munir Bayouk