In the 20th Century Christianity was effectively outlawed by the Communist states of Russia - then the USSR - and China. In Russia certain "approved" churches continued to operate under strict supervision of the Government. In China, Mao forced the majority of churches to disband." The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5
Disbanding conventional churches in China led to the fastest growth of Christianity in a single country during the 20th Century. Some left churches and joined the communists. But a few, a Remnant, followed a more dangerous and noble calling: spread the Gospel in a hostile country.
2000 years earlier, the disciples and later Paul faced that same problem. The Roman Empire persecuted them for over 200 years until Constantine declared Christianity to be the "official" religion of the Empire. Martyrs were made. Saints were venerated. The Remnant grew and overthrew the evil seeking to oppress it.
The light shone through the darkness of the Roman gods. Christians were referred to as Atheists by the Romans because they did not accept the Roman pantheon.
The Light of Christianity shone through the darkness of Communism in China and churches continue to grow. In Russia the churches are growing fast. Communism, the great darkness of the twentieth century, is all but defeated.
But now Christianity faces a new darkness.
We are often urged from the pulpits of public media to be tolerant of other religions. That's not what any of the men who took Christ's message to the world in a way that changed things ever did. It's compromise.
Luke-warm Christianity. Ready for Christ the Judge of Revelation to vomit out of His mouth.
In the Middle-East there is a growing darkness. The very region our Lord chose to be born into and live His Earthly life is threatened by the darkness of religious extremism from ISIS. Long established Christian communities have been displaced and murdered while the Western countries best equipped to mount a military response sit back and say "how sad".
When oil was at stake in Iraq and Kurdistan they were only too quick to get involved under any pretense they could find. All it is now is a group of Third-World people being displaced and murdered thousands of miles from the seats of Government who could make a difference on the ground.
This is in danger of becoming a political essay, which is not where I'm headed. Back to the point...
I have a dear friend I've known for (yikes) 20 years. She and her family live in Erbil. Her husband is Kurdish. Following the news reports makes this conflict very real to me. I have a personal interest in it.
They are a Christian family.
ISIS has not yet turned it's attention to their area of Kurdistan in a major way, but they will. Yet in the middle of the conflict there is yet hope. There are reports coming out of ISIS controlled towns of beheadings for being Christian.
People are laying down their lives for Jesus in this environment. Persecution of the most in-your-face kind is being conducted against the Remnant left in the occupied territories of Iraq and Syria.
Persecution in the West looks very different. Satan will distract us with modern "issues", red-herrings designed for a single purpose: to prevent us seeing the tragedy unfolding in Iraq. Homosexuality on the doorstep is more engrossing than wholesale slaughter half-way round the world. It consumes the Christian media and takes our focus away from the rise of the murderous campaign.
The US Election campaign is more likely to focus on domestic issues than persecution of real people half a world away. There is little coverage of the veterans returning in body-bags.
My health prevents me from going to fight with an army of men - they don't let diabetics fight. I'm also 43 years old, positively ancient for a soldier of Man.
But I'm not a soldier of Man. I'm a Warrior of Christ.
So are you.
We need to do Spiritually what the West refuses to do militarily: it's time for War.
The Remnant of Christians in ISIS territory needs prayer support. Just like they did in Nazi occupied Europe. Just like they did in the Roman Empire. Just like they did in Communist China and Russia.
A Remnant always remains, a light in a dark place that cannot be extinguished. I highly recommend the two volumes of "Jesus Freaks" compiled with the Voice of the Martyrs for accounts of Christians over the last 2000 years who gave their freedom and their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Why do we shy away from the subject? Why are we afraid to be vocal about Christians being persecuted?
It's because we have become silenced by society. Christian men are supposed to be moral nice-guys who have an abundance of cheeks to turn.
Rise Up! " And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." [Matthew 11:12 NKJV]
The force we can exert from a distance is to stand united in Spirit with those in these places, to go to Spiritual War with them and on their behalf. We fail to at our peril. These are our Brothers and Sisters. Surely we would want them to do the same for us if circumstances were reversed?
"Like a mighty army moves the Church of God, Brothers we are treading where the Saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in charity." The words of a 19th Century Hymn I learned as a child. The Church is an army.
Another verse reads "At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee; on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise; brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise."
Pray for the Remnant. A call to Arms.
Let our Praise and Prayers shake Hell's foundations.
To Arms! To Arms!