By Virginia S. Saunders
NINE CHRISTIANS were shot to death at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon last week. Survivors reported that the gunman asked victims about their religion, and as soon as they said “Christian” they were shot in the head, a clean execution. Those who said “Other” were shot on the legs.
What happened in Umpqua is not the first time Christians were put through the wringer when they have had to testify to their faith in Jesus who said in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
What Jesus said – was that an adequate encouragement? Should we be encouraged about the sight of the Heavenly Gates at the point of execution, or lie about our faith so as not to devastate our surviving loved ones? I am sure my children would be so broken if I said “I am a Christian”, then BANG!
This is not the first time this year. There were 296 mass murders in the US in 2015 according to a tracking report, of which 45 were faith-related. As more and more Americans resolve their mental illness by triggering a gun, Christians seem to be the easiest target. In June 2015 a gunman shot nine people inside a Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Think about the assurance we have when we have faith”, said a pastor in Roseburg, Oregon where the massacre happened. “The attacks may come, the gun might be pointed, but when that question comes – “Are you a Christian?” – we can be certain.” I wish he never said that. It seemed like the wrong words to assuage a grieving community.
Have you ever imagined being in that dire situation?
As I read about the many Christians who were being persecuted in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, China, and India, I can’t help but imagine what it feels to have a sword or knife slashing my throat. Imagine the knife slashing through the carotid arteries. Imagine the torturer sawing through the neck bones. Imagine the blood squirting. Imagine the eyeballs popping out of its sockets because of pain. Just the thought of it has turned white overnight the hairs of Sir Thomas Moore before his execution in 1534, and Queen Marie Antoinette of France in 1793 before she was led to the guillotine. Even Jesus Christ sweated in blood just by the thought of the lashing and crucifixion he was going to suffer the next day.
It is 2015 and the barbarity has not changed. Every day we are reminded of Christian persecution as the Islamic State hordes slash and burn Christians in the Middle East. There is no mercy in their method of torture and brutality. Even Syrians and Libyans who joined ISIS and have escaped, tell of the horrors from within, how they were forced to mutilate or behead Christian hostages. The latest pictures I have seen on Twitter are four Syrian prisoners in orange garb hanging upside down from a pole while their ISIS torturers lit gasoline flames from underneath them as they were roasted to their death.
Said Patrick Soukhdeo, founder of Barnabas Fund, an interdenominational Christian aid agency based in Southwest England, “It is like going back 1,000 years seeing the barbarity that Christians are having to live under. We are dealing with a group that makes Nazis pale in comparison, and I think they have lost all respect for human life. Crucifying these people is sending a message, and they are using forms of killing which they believe have been sanctioned by their Shariah Law.”
I have said this before. I cannot believe that this is just a cultural and religious issue, when radical Moslems, like the Umpqua killer, refer to Christians as “infidels” who must be exterminated. There is a great moat that divides Christians and Moslems. Christians consider murder and destruction as works of the devil, while Moslem jihadists consider extermination of infidels as “giving glory to God”. Truly this is the devil infiltrating the minds and hearts of Moslems. The Bible said in Ephesians 6:12-13 that “our struggles are not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens”.
I am very dismayed that the devils are rampant in our own country. We have a president who pretends to be a Christian, but has publicly declared that “when the winds shift in a different direction I will side with Islam”. It has been shifting since his presidency and we know where he is leaning.
Said Reverend Franklin Graham, “Persecution and targeting of Christians is not just in Iran and Iraq. It is right here in USA. The bold souls of UCC who stood up to Mercer that were followers of Jesus Christ were heinously gunned down with no mercy. Jesus said, “if they hate you remember they hated me before they hated you. (John 15:18)”
The founder of Liberty Institute, Kelly Shackleford of Texas, has been chronicling the rise of incidents of Christian persecution in United States. “I have been doing these types of cases for almost 25 years now. I have never seen the levels of attacks like these and how quickly they are now proliferating.”
“There are children being prohibited from writing Merry Christmas to the soldiers, senior citizens being banned from praying over their meals in the Senior Center, the Veterans Administration banning the mention of God in military funerals, numerous attempts to have veterans memorials torn down if they have any religious symbols such as cross. I could go on and on”, Shackleford told World News Daily.
“The Obama administration has been very hostile”, Shackleford underscored.
One who knows about persecution of Christians is the American Center for Law and Justice. According to ACLJ counsel David French, the most strident example is the misuse of the Establishment Clause to attempt to ban any mention of God from historical markers, monuments or even museum exhibits. “This represents an effort to whitewash God from American history and change our national identity.”
What happened in Umpqua could happen again in any gun-free school zone near you. Obama immediately launched his tirade against gun ownership as soon as he heard of the massacre in Umpqua. He only stopped his tirade when he heard it was a deranged moslem who pulled the trigger.
If you were caught in this evil, maddening scenario, what would you do? Would you declare your faith as a Christian or lie about it? For me, a Bible toting, tongue-praying, knees blackened from kneeling in prayer kind of Catholic, I must confess I would not know what to do. I am very much in awe of Christians who faced martyrdom while defending their faith.
For me, it would be a sweet dilemma: seeing Jesus so near just after a gunshot in the head, or ending crippled with a gunshot on the leg. I would probably say “Other”, knowing that by doing so I would live another day to ask forgiveness from Lord Jesus, but insuring the mental and emotional survival of my loved ones should I live another day.
October 6, 2015
First posted in http://virginiasaunders.authorsxpress.com/2015/10/06/sweet-dilemma-i-am-a-christian-bang/