Killing of pastor in USA draws attention to violence against Christians
The murder last week of an Illinois pastor horrified Americans. It's not a common occurrence in the U.S., but Open Doors says deadly violence against believers around the world occurs on a daily basis, reports MNN. "Most Christians in the United States don't know this kind of violence happens every day in some restrictive countries around the world...places like Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan. And the attacks are directed against Christians. They are caught in the crossfire," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller.
"People don't think that kind of persecution could happen in the U.S., but it is starting to happen. That's why we must unite in prayer with our brothers and sisters around the world."
On the same day Rev. Fred Winters, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Maryville, was killed, a village pastor in India's Bihar State was seriously wounded when an attacker tried to kill him to stop him from preaching the Gospel.
Police Inspector Hari Krishna Mandal told Compass Direct News that the attacker, Rajesh Singh, had come fully prepared to kill the pastor, Vinod Kumar, and then take his own life. Church members caught Singh before he could kill himself or others.
A week ago, Compass Direct News reported a gun and club attack on a Presbyterian church and neighboring homes in the predominantly-Christian area of a village in Pakistan. One woman was killed and 16 people wounded.
Open Doors estimates 100 million Christians are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Torture, imprisonment, harassment and murder are all directed towards Christians.
"Last month Open Doors released its annual World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution," says Moeller. "It was headed by North Korea again, followed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Those countries are always among the top persecutors.
"Could the United States be listed there some day? Perhaps. On Monday March 12, a study revealed the number of people calling themselves Christians in the U.S. has significantly dropped over the last two decades. We need to be on our guard to protect our precious freedom of religion in the U.S. and advocate for those who don't share our freedom. We also need to be ready to share our faith, no matter what the cost."