Middle East (MNN) — Pope Francis is making news for more than his travels around the world. He’s putting labels on persecution against Christians. 200 million Christians are suffering at the hands of oppressors in 60 countries. It’s so bad that the Pope and other religious freedom advocates are calling it a form of genocide.
However, Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs isn’t sure about the label. “Genocide is such a loaded word in our society and in our culture that I almost am hesitant to use the word. But [the pope] makes a statement that it’s a type of genocide, and I really think that is accurate.”
Former Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Va., is calling on the U.S. government and the United Nations to declare their attacks genocide. Nettleton adds, “In light of the situation, in light of the fact that that there are Christians there, even though Islamic State doesn’t want them to be there, it’s a hard label to affix to something.”
What is the Islamic State hoping for? Nettleton says, “A Middle East that is complete radical Sunni Muslim and has no room for Christians.”
Nettleton believes IS is actually a sort of public service for the negative side of Islam. “They put the true face of Islam on display. And, we hear the stories of Muslims who look at the Islamic State and say, ‘Wait a minute! If that’s what it means to be a Muslim, I don’t want to be that.'”
It is having an impact. Nettleton adds, “We’ve even had stories of Islamic State fighters themselves who have either had a dream or a vision where they saw Jesus, and they have chosen to leave behind that life and to come and follow Christ.”
Nettleton is asking you to pray for Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering, but he would also like you to pray for members of Islamic State. Pray “that God would reach them either through a Christian getting a Bible getting in theirs hands or a Gospel radio broadcast, or supernaturally through an act of God, through a dream or a vision that speaks directly to them.”
How can you stay connected to the persecuted church? VOM’s monthly newsletter. “Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter is free. We send it out every month to equip the American church to pray effectively, to know what’s going on with our brothers and sisters around the world.”