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For the Sake of Love

June 1, 2014

A Sudanese court, two weeks ago, sentenced Mariam Yehya Ibrahim to death by hanging for her failure to renounce Christianity and return to Islam. Officially, the crime of which the court found Mariam guilty was apostacy, i.e. abandoning or criticizing Islam.

The 27 year old woman was, also, sentenced to 100 lashes on the related charge of adultery for marrying her Christian husband, Daniel Wani, an American. Such marriages are forbidden under Islamic religious law which is incorporated into Sudan’s constitution.

Mariam gave birth last week to the couple’s second child. There is hope her release may yet be obtained through diplomatic means.

We gripe about religious persecution here in America, but have little or no concept of how severe persecution can actually be. All across the globe there are Christians bearing witness to their faith in the face of violent opposition.

  • Persecution at the hands of radical Muslims is on the rise in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia (nominally a Christian nation), and Egypt.
  • In Saudi Arabia, Christian missionaries can be jailed, tortured, and executed.
  • In North Korean 30,000 Christian men and women are confined and tortured in four concentration camps for that purpose.
  • In Sri Lanka, Buddhists and Hindus greatly fear the spread of Christianity though they vastly outnumber Christians.  There were over 100 attacks on churches in 2013. The total in 2014 is expected to exceed that figure.
  • In India, the national constitution guarantees freedom of religion.  However, six states at least have put laws in place prohibiting conversion by “force, fraud, or allurement”. These laws are understood to refer to conversion to Christianity. Government permission on 30 days notice is required for a Hindu to convert to Christianity. The destruction of churches, assaults on – even the murders of – Christians are not uncommon, and rarely punished.

Nation by nation, the list goes on.

We have seen firsthand the “martyrs” of other faiths willing to die consumed by hatred.  In contrast, Christians at their best live and die for the sake of love.

Let us keep faith with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us speak out while it is yet possible for us to do so. Let us share our resources –resources given us for this very purpose – that our brothers and sisters in Christ need not go without.

And that we need not confess with Paul:

“ ‘And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him’ ” (Acts 22: 20).

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