Christmastime is when many folks get their priorities straight. They feed the hungry, care for the homeless and fill the food banks. The ones who do this usually do it year round. But every Christmas new folks see the light and help out. This time for spreading joy, singing and hearing faintly a spiritual message is also about shopping. There is no joy in the malls. (Remember this is an opinion piece.) And it is a time of proselytizing.
I have friends who are ardent in their proselytizing of Muslims year round. They prefer to use the term “witnessing” to Muslims. The New Testament is a strong advocate of witnessing about and for the Christian faith. But proselytizing? Prose-lytism is the effort to convert from one belief or faith to another.
These Christian witnesses are attempting to make proselytes. The one way to get a Muslim into hot water with his family and friends is to talk to them about the Christian Lord Jesus Christ.
In Afghanistan last year, the world learned of a long-time Muslim convert to Christianity being threatened with death by the Afghan courts. With international pressure, he was allowed to flee the country.
The persecution of Christians in war-torn Iraq is not completely religious in nature. The Islamic extremist campaign of forcing Chris-tians to leave their districts or home is political and has little to do with faith.
When they are displaced, armed men tell them there are three options: Convert to Islam, leave, or die. Some have only hours to pack. More than half the one million Christians in Iraq have fled or died.
Richard Wells (see his Web site at www.iraqprayer.
org) wrote me that the only Catholic seminary in Iraq relocated from Baghdad to the Kurdish area in January 2007. This because of threats and the kidnapping of one of the staff.
In June this year, Father Ragheed Ganni and three aides were shot dead as they left the Church of the Holy Spirit. October 2006, Father Boulos Iskandar of the Syrian Orthodox Church was kidnapped and murdered. These are just a couple of those we hear about.
Wells continues to explain: “Religious persecution is defined as the violation of human rights for religious reasons. Therefore, there is little, if any, religious persecution in Iraq since the suffering is as a result of economic, social and political motivations, even if in some cases there is a religious veneer.”
Christians were in Mesopotamia before Mohammed began Islam. Jews and Christians influenced him early on, but the luster wore off. The last 1400 years Christians have been a vulnerable minority. Today they are also perceived as a tool of Western countries, hence an enemy.
The invasion of Iraq by a “Christian” Western nation has been viewed by many in the Middle East in a far different light than we in the West. America went to war because it could. Liberations lose their glow as the occupation sets in. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Trying to change a man’s faith just continues the infamous Crusades. There is a world of people with no faith, no religion. Go to them with the message. Quit trying to make Baptists out of Methodists or believers out of Muslims. Go to those who have never heard the Gospel story. The Muslims have heard a version of the story and like it or not, agree with it or not, they have made their choice. Christian friends witness to the unwashed masses who have no religious faith.
If you have read this far, as Bob Hope said in his book, “They’ve Got Me Covered,” you must be a friend. I hope you have a Christmas that deepens your faith, sets new priorities and you are a blessing to all you meet along the way.
Britt Towery is a former missionary, freelance writer and published author. He welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.