Date: January 4, 2017
Europe (MNN) — Reports about the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia are fairly common, yet it’s becoming just as much of an issue in Western countries as well.
Distributing aid to refugees. (Photo courtesy of VOM USA)
As Muslim-born Christians flee the violence in their home countries, many settle in refugee camps throughout Western Europe. They aren’t, however, being met with open arms — either by the countries they flee to or by fellow refugees. According to a report by Open Doors, 743 Christians living in an asylum camp in Germany reported religiously motivated attacks between May and September 2016. Most recently, a woman in Austria was stabbed by a fellow refugee for reading her Bible.
“I think perhaps this is a story the media is sort of waking up to, and interestingly it’s the same story we tell in the nations of the Middle East, where if someone becomes a Christian out of a Muslim background, they are threatened, they are persecuted, potentially their life is at risk,” says Todd Nettleton, director of media and public relations for The Voice of the Martyrs, USA. “That is also true if they come to faith out of a Muslim background in a refugee camp in Europe. It can also be true in the United States.”
The number of Christian refugees facing persecution is most likely much higher than the numbers reported. Many Christians are afraid to speak out for their safety, as even the authorities pose a threat.
“They are guests in a foreign nation,” Nettleton says. “Their status as far as legally being able to stay in that nation can be put at risk, so it’s natural that they don’t want to be seen as a trouble maker, they don’t want to be seen as somebody who’s a risk or somebody who could pose a risk to their new host country, because they want that immigration process to go through smoothly.
“You also have in many cases the authority figures at the camps, whether they be guards or workers or others, are Muslims who in many cases speak Arabic. They speak the language of the refugees. Well, if their religious philosophy is that the Quran says someone who leaves Islam is an apostate, they should me mistreated, they should even be killed, then they’re doing that under the guise of authority.”
(Photo courtesy of VOM USA)
While people in the U.S. may be appalled at what Christians in other countries are facing, Nettleton reminds believers that for many, persecution is a daily struggle. He says it’s important to remember believers in their plight by keeping them in our prayers.
“I don’t think necessarily they’re as surprised by the persecution they face as we are, looking on from the United States, but I think the key response is, ‘We want to pray for those who persecute us, we want to win them to Jesus, we want more Muslims to become Christians,'” Nettleton says.
Voice of the Martyrs is assisting persecuted believers by providing humanitarian assistance, as well as providing Bibles and other materials to help Christians evangelize to their persecutors. You can find ways to take action alongside Voice of the Martyrs by clicking here.
You can also hear stories about people working with persecuted believers. Click here to learn about the ways two people are sharing Christ’s love with Muslim refugees in Europe and the pressures the refugees face when they turn to Christ.