Lebanon (MNN) — On Monday, the secretary general of Lebanon's Future Movement announced that Christians needed to be protected within the government. Although this is certainly good news, it will not ensure an end to persecution.
The efforts to protect Christians are probably mostly political, says Tom Doyle with E3 Partners . "That's kind of the spirit of Lebanon," says Doyle, who calls Lebanon a unique country in the Middle East since it actually tries to keep a balance of Christians and Muslims in the government.
According to Barcelona News, many Christians have emigrated out of Lebanon, nervous about the growing Shiite influence. With government sanctions in place to protect Christians, however, the hope is that Christians will stay in Lebanon.
Regardless of whether the decision appears mostly political or mostly humanitarian, Doyle affirms that this is a good thing for Christians. "That's an encouraging thing to hear what Lebanon is saying because they're recognizing a widespread problem in the Middle East."
This is an exciting government effort, especially in the Middle East, but any Christians hoping government protection will quell persecution may be hoping in vain.
"We know that ultimately there's a clash," explains Doyle. "Just by the very nature of going and giving people an offer of Jesus' free gift of salvation, it's going to get noticed, and believers in the Middle East will pay a price for that."
The groups responsible for persecuting Christians are likely unconcerned with any government prompts to protect Christians, says Doyle. Although the government may be in favor of peace keeping, that will not keep Islamic radical groups–including nearby Hezbollah–from attacking Christians as they see fit.
"Really, that has no bearing on them. That's not going to change their agenda. They're not going to stop following the Koran. They're not going to stop trying to rid their country of Christians." Doyle goes on to say that the real question is "whether the government can get control of the terrorist groups that are persecuting the Christians… Can they successfully do that? Usually they just can't."
Although these government efforts likely won't mean the end of hardship for Christ followers in this region of the Middle East, Doyle says that's not all bad. "The persecution is really what spreads the church, not the ease of where they live." Whether persecution is minimal or trying, pray that believers would be bold in their proclamation of the Gospel.
Many governments are against Christians in the Middle East, so Lebanon is still a safe anomaly for believers in the region. Pray that other governments would feel pressured by this decision to protect rather than hunt Christians in their own countries. Pray that relative peace in Lebanon would continue.