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MNN criticized, let me explain

Over the last couple of weeks Mission Network News has been criticized for our coverage of the Egypt riots. It’s been kind of interesting to hear their complains. While I understand their criticism, I’m not sure it’s founded.

The first critique came from someone who didn’t like the characterization of our report. He wrote:

“I was listening to the radio yesterday (Feb 3) and heard the report on Egypt. I was struck by the curious wording that< “the situation is becoming dire for churches and Christians.” While I am aware that there is tension between the religious groups, my impression is that not only the Christians are experiencing the things that were then mentioned in the report. However, as I heard it, the report left the impression that the challenges in daily life that were mentioned were unique to the Christian population. I found this to be unhelpful in nurturing compassion for ALL people of the region who are in a difficult situation.”

This story was a story we aired after already reporting on rioting and why the thousands of protesters were (are) in the streets. Because we had already reported on the issues facing the average person, we thought it would be good to focus on Christians and the local church. So, we did that. Unfortunately this person took issue with that report. Again, I agree that EVERYONE is affected, but every OTHER network (including ours) had already talked about everyone else — so we wanted to focus on the story behind the story. For MNN, that story was about the church. Which also fits our mission.

The second criticism came today:

“I feel you need to retract or correct your paragraph from E3 Partners today. You wrote, “Assist News reports that 11 Christians were
killed by radical Muslims”. This portrays that the crisis in Egypt is Muslims vs. Christians, and this is NOT the case at all! I’m hearing
from several sources that Christians and Muslims are unified in their push to oust Mubarak, and there is no religious sectarianism involved.
In this case, casualties were random, and Christians are 10% of the population. I urge you to guard against fanning the flames that this is an extremist revolution like Iran had 30 years ago. Focus your readers/listeners to love and reach out to Muslims, not to hate and fear them.”

While I understand his comments, I’m not sure I can do that. First of all, the story we aired was about a coordinated effort to attack and kill Christians. They were Muslims. And, they were radicals. In order to do something like this, I think you’ll agree that would have to be the case.

For many of you who read or hear our news every day, you know we talk about loving Muslims and sharing the Gospel with them. We know this is important. In fact, we have encouraged people to show them love, hospitality and point them to the Injil (New Testament) to help them understand the person of Jesus.

Are we perfect? NO. Do we make mistakes? Yes. Are we painting the picture that Muslims are bad? That’s something only you can answer. We do tell stories about Christians who are attacked by not only Muslims, but also Hindus, Buddhists, Communists and any other organized groups. Unfortunately, the Islamic faith has jihad as part of their core beliefs. Does the mean we’re ‘hate mongers’? It just means we’re telling the truth. Sometimes the truth is painful.

Sometimes I find it interesting that Christians want us to ‘dumb down’ our news to make it more friendly. Unfortunately, many of the Christians who face persecution around the world just want to know that other Christians are standing beside them. They want people to know the suffering they’re experience. They want Christians to pray. So, we honor that by providing as much information we can, without causing safety issues for the individuals and/or ministries.

Why am I talking about this? Providing news and information can be polarizing. Even though we’re talking mostly to a Christian audience, Satan can use it to divide us. We can’t let that happen. We need to use this information to circle the proverbial wagons to pray, reach out with the Gospel and/or gather funding to help these ministries.

Each week we write dozens of stories about what God is doing around the world. Much of the news focuses on persecution of Christians, disasters, outreach/evangelism, politics and other popular news topics. Why? So, we can tell you how it affects Christians around the world and how God is using it to bring people to Himself.

The bottom line (as one of my friends likes to say) is that MNN has the privilege of being able to talk about God’s work around the world every day. My prayer is that MNN will glorify God in each story we air, encourage Christians to get off their ‘duff’ and do something for Him, and provide news and information that will encourage the body of Christ.

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