Apr 7, 2016
History has the uncanny habit of repeating itself. American writer, historian, and philosopher Will Durant once said, “So the story of man runs in a dreary circle, because he is not yet master of the earth that holds him.” The biblical writer Qoheleth made the same observation about 2,000 years earlier. He said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9). This seems certainly true when it comes to the persecution of Christians.
For the first three centuries after Christ, his followers faced fierce persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire. From the persecution under Nero (64 A.D.) to the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.), Christians were persecuted sporadically for 129 years. As many as 100,000 Christians gave their lives rather than renounce Christ for the state religion.
Even a cursory glance at news reports confirms that we are witnessing a brutal recurrence of the persecution of Christians. On February 24, 2016, radical Islamic mercenaries swept through Christian villages in Nigeria, slaughtering over three hundred, including pregnant women and children. On March 3, 2016, al-Qaeda gunmen attacked a hotel on the Ivory Coast, murdering anyone who refused to praise Allah with them. They killed eighteen people, including a five-year old Christian. On the following day, sixteen militant Muslims stormed a Catholic retirement home in Yemen, murdering four nuns and the elderly residents.
So abhorrent is Christian faith to these radicals that they feel obliged to eliminate anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity. On October 10, 2015, radical Muslims in Uganda dragged a mother of eight from her own home and shot her in reprisal for her husband’s conversion to Christianity. On January 7, 2016, a group of Muslims in Bangladesh took the life of a man for leaving Islam.
Those who hate Christians like to use Christian holy days as the occasions to make their violent attacks. This year, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah prohibited the public celebration of Christmas in his country of Brunei. Those who disobeyed faced a five-year prison sentence.