Inside Out 323: Christians in the Middle East

12.17.14 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Could we be witnessing the end of the Christian population in the Middle East?

Violence in the Middle East certainly is threatening established Christian populations in Syria, Iraq, and other countries in the region. At the end of November,Roman CatholicPope Francis and Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I together issued a statement focused on the violence. The world cannot stand by and allow “a Middle East without Christians,” they said.

This past year Sunni rebels, calling themselves the Islamic State, took control of the Syrian city of Mosel, on the site of the ancient city of Nineveh. The centuries-old Christian community was dismantled as Christians were threatened with death if they did not convert to Islam or pay a tax. Most fled, leaving behind their homes and possessions.

“We are seeing countries--we are seeing cities--where the Christian population is being forced out. Is that a permanent thing—I don’t know, I hope not,” says today’s guest Todd Nettleton, the director of media and public relations for the advocacy group The Voice of the Martyrs.

The level of Christian persecution varies from country to county and region to region throughout the Middle East, Nettleton points out. Families have been killed and Christian communities have been displaced. But that does not mean that the Middle East is without a Christian population, he says.

That’s because Muslims in the region are converting to Christianity.

“Sort of the good news side of the coin is there are many more Muslims who are coming to faith in Christ,” Nettleton says. “We see that in Iran, we see that across the region: Muslims coming to faith in Christ.”

Whether our brothers and sisters in the Middle East face persecution because they are part of traditionally Christian people groups or because they have converted from Islam, they could use our help. Their primary request, Nettleton says, is that we include them in our prayers.

Visit The Voice of the Martyrs website to learn how you can pray for the needs of believers in the Middle East. (Once at the website, type “Middle East” into the search engine.)

“We want to equip people to pray, because that is the very first request of our brothers and sisters overseas,” Nettleton says.

You can also provide material aid by filling an Action Pack with practical items for people in need in Iraq, Pakistan, or Sudan.

Learn how The Voice of the Martyrs spreads the news of Christian persecution in restricted nations and works to help those facing that persecution.

Listen to my 14-minute conversation with Todd Nettleton by clicking above on the LISTEN or DOWNLOAD icon.


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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


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