And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? (Luke 3:10-14)
Peter Wilde, a former BCBC parishioner and good friend, asks us to pray for Christians in Iraq who are being persecuted by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). The terrible situation is discussed here.
Historically, the sad fact is that this is nothing new in this part of the world.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, a new anti-Christian force known as Islam arose, and during the 100 years following the death of Mohammed (632 AD) it spread with force and speed, wiping out Christianity’s birthplace (638 AD) the Christian centers in North Africa, and the old Roman province of Asia (southwestern Turkey). For centuries after that, Islam also threatened the great eastern Roman capital, Constantinople.
In 732, Muslims were finally turned back to Spain after their defeat at the Battle of Tours in France, which remained Muslim, or Moorish, for several more centuries almost to the time of the Reformation. The Muslims were also defeated in the East in 718 and were unable, temporarily, to conquer Constantinople.
The seven crusades (8 if you count the children’s crusade) started in 1095 AD, and over the next 200 years Europeans tried to do something about Islam, including recover the Holy Land.
Overall, all this violence has resulted in a long legacy of bitterness, which continues to this day. Jerry Bridges, writing in Decision Magazine tells us, “God is sovereign over the nations… He is sovereign over the officials of government in lands where our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer for their faith in Him. And he is sovereign over the nations where every attempt is made to stamp out true Christianity. In all of these areas, we can and must trust God.”
He advises, “If we are to trust God for our persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries, we must be diligent in prayer for their rulers.”