Friday, September 18, 2009

Somali Christians beheaded

Around August 4, 2009, four Christian aid workers – Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma’ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi, and Maaddey Diil - met their Savior as martyrs. According to eyewitness accounts reported to International Christian Concern, the four were kidnapped on July 27, 2009 from the Somali town of Merca. These were labeled apostates for converting to Christianity and given a chance to return to Islam, but all declined. An Al Shabab militant, calling himself “The Sword of Islam”, accused the four of sowing religious discord and called them infidels.

This is not an isolated example of a lone extremist using religion as a pretext for hatred, but yet another in a long list of attacks against Christians. If the situation were reversed and someone in America calling himself “The Sword of Christianity” kidnapped and beheaded four people who had converted to Islam, the major news media would still be running the story, and rightfully so. But, this type of violence has become routine and is hardly mentioned any more. At the website and others like it, we attempt to persuade people of the truth through the use of evidence, reason, and the love of God, not by threats of violence.

Two of the most notorious persecutors of Christians were Roman Emperors Nero and Domitian, who reigned in the first century. John Foxe wrote of Nero:
“His rage against the Christians was so fierce that Eusebius records, ‘a man might then, see cities full of men’s bodies, the old lying together with the young, and the dead bodies of women cast out naked, without reverence of that sex, in the open streets.’ Many Christians in those days thought that Nero was the antichrist because of his cruelty and abominations.” Apostles Peter and Paul are believed to have suffered under Nero’s persecution.
Foxe wrote of Domitian:
“Death was not considered enough punishment for the Christians, who were subjected to the cruelest treatment possible. They were whipped, disemboweled, torn apart, and stoned. Plates of hot iron were laid on them; they were strangled, eaten by wild animals, hung, and tossed on the horns of bulls…Nevertheless, the Church continued to grow, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and watered with the blood of the saints.”
(Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World, Westwood, NJ: Barbour Books, 1989, pp. 8-9)

Hearing of this recent persecution in Somalia brings to mind Revelation 12:11 which states, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20) and “"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

Friends and family members of these four brave men in Somalia can rejoice because they have a great reward. Although these atrocities are intensely disturbing, the Bible instructs us, “Do not repay evil for evil” (Romans 12:17), but “love your enemies, do good to them…Then your reward will be great” (Luke 6:35).