21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS terrorists

21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS terrorists

It was the land where Jesus Christ once walked.

It was the region where the first Christian communities were established.

But today, Christianity barely maintains a foothold in the Middle East, as the region’s Christian population has plummeted over the past 100 years.

In 1910, Christians made up 13.6 percent of the Mideast’s population. A hundred years later, in 2010, that number had declined to 4.2 percent. By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3 percent of the Middle East’s population.

Lebanon, which was more than three-fourths Christian a century ago, is expected to be only 30 percent Christian in 2025. Syria, which was 15.6 percent Christian in 1910, is projected to be only 2.7 percent Christian eight years from now. Iraq was 6.3 percent Christian a century ago, but will be only 0.6 percent Christian in 2025. In Turkey, the Christian population was a robust 21.7 percent in 1910 but is expected to be a mere 0.2 percent in 2025.

William Murray, chairman of the D.C.-based Religious Freedom Coalition, pointed out the very first Christian churches were established in Jerusalem and Damascus. The church in Damascus was thriving in the first century, which is why Saul set out to persecute it. It was on the road to Damascus when, according to the Bible, Jesus blinded Saul, and Saul reversed his ways, becoming the great missionary Paul, who went on to establish many Christian churches in the Middle East and beyond.

But Paul was hardly the only one who spread Christianity throughout the region.

“By evangelizing all of what is now Syria, Iraq and the whole of the Levant was Christian at the time of the first Muslim invasion in the 7th century that slaughtered and enslaved Christians,” Murray told WND. “Descendants of those won to Jesus by the saints such as Paul, Peter, Timothy and John have survived to modern times.”

Murray, whose organization advocates for the rights and protection of Middle Eastern Christians, said the disappearance of this population from its birthplace could have wide-ranging consequences.

“The significance of the loss of Christians in the Middle East is that they represent the roots and trunk of the tree planted by the Lord,” Murray said. “The church in America is merely one of the branches of that tree. Allowing the tree to be destroyed will lead to the spiritual death of the branches as well.

“For the secular West, the death of the church in the Middle East means that regimes, particularly those run by royal families, will become even more extreme in Islamic fundamentalism, as Christians have traditionally been the moderating force.”

Murray, who authored the book “Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World with Central Planning,” said moderation is the chief benefit a sizable Christian population brings to Middle Eastern countries.

“The more Christians in a nation, the less Islamic extremism that nation has,” he emphasized. “Egypt has the largest Christian population and the least extremism. Syria also has a large Christian population. However, Saudi Arabia, which is 100 percent Muslim, chops off heads at a record rate and treats women as property.”

Although comparatively low birthrates have contributed to the decline of the Christian population, it’s mostly a matter of emigration. Christians have been fleeing the Middle East, driven away by ISIS and by governments the U.S. considers allies in the “War on Terror.”

When suicide bombers attacked an Egyptian church on Palm Sunday last month, killing at least 27 people, parishioners blamed the Egyptian government for failing to adequately protect them. Government forces assigned to the Mar Girgis church in Tanta had failed to fix a faulty metal detector at the entrance after church guards found a bomb on the grounds a week earlier. This came despite promises from the Egyptian government to protect its Christian minority.

But the vast majority of Middle Eastern governments discriminate against Christians, according to Murray.

“In Iraq, a child’s name must come from the Quran,” he explained. “It is against the law to put any other name on a birth certificate. In all Muslim nations, a Christian can convert to Islam but it is against the law for a Muslim to convert to Christianity; he can face death. In even secular-leaning nations such as Egypt there is virtually no chance of getting a permit to build a new church. Only the secular government of Syria protects the rights of Christians – a government the United States and Saudi Arabia are trying to replace with a Sunni Muslim-based government using Shariah law.”

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The disappearance of the Middle Eastern Christian population has left the region overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, which first arrived in the area in the 7th century A.D. Not only do Christians occasionally suffer violent attacks at the hands of their Muslim neighbors, but violent clashes between competing Muslim sects, such as Sunnis and Shiites, have also forced Christians to abandon some areas.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East began roughly 100 years ago, when many migrated to the U.S. for jobs. Various conflicts, such as Lebanon’s civil war, drove more Christians out over the ensuing century.

The fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003 destabilized that country and made Iraq less safe for Christians. The danger only increased when ISIS seized about a quarter of the country a decade later. According to Iraqi church officials, Iraq has lost four-fifths of its pre-2003 Christian population.

Things got much worse in many Middle Eastern countries with the 2011 Arab Spring, while Barack Obama was president, when the overthrow of secular Muslim dictators led to the rise of Muslim extremist groups and opened up Christian populations to brutal attacks. In Syria, the civil war has forced about half the country’s 2.5 million Christians to flee.

It has gotten to the point where more Arab Christians live outside the Middle East than in the region. About 20 million live abroad while 15 million remain in the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal noted.

Carl Gallups, a Baptist pastor, author and talk radio host, looks at all the turmoil in the Middle East and sees biblical prophecy unfolding.

“The wholesale slaughter, enslaving, and/or dispersion of the Christian population in the Middle East possesses prophetic undertones,” Gallups told WND. “When speaking of the days just prior to His return, Jesus said: ‘For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again.’ (Matthew 24:21).”

Those words are becoming true in the Middle East, which is the unmistakable focus of biblical end times prophecy, Gallups asserted. It’s a topic the pastor has explored in many of his books, including his latest, “When the Lion Roars: Understanding the Implications of Ancient Prophecies for Our Time.”

“Since Christianity’s birth until now, there has not been a greater ‘tribulation’ period aimed specifically at Christians around the world, and especially in the Middle East and Muslim nations,” he said. “This fact alone should serve as a warning that the world is very close to the edge (without setting dates) of the days of Great Tribulation.”

What’s more, the pastor acknowledged these developments fit into Islam’s plan.

“In the past, having sizable Christian populations in the Middle East presented a somewhat stabilizing effect on the surrounding Islamic culture,” he said. “However, as many have been warning, the ultimate agenda of Islam is to eventually dominate the Middle East – and the world. There is no room for strong and influential Christian or Jewish communities in the Islamic worldview.”

Given what he knows about prophecy, Gallups does not fear the developments in the Middle East.

“In the midst of the seemingly chaotic turmoil, especially in the Middle East, I am often asked, ‘Is everything simply falling apart?'” Gallups said. “My answer has consistently been, ‘No, as a matter of biblical fact – everything is actually coming together – in exact alignment with biblical prophecy.’ For those with eyes to see, the signs are clear.”

President Trump previously said his administration would prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim refugees, but in Murray’s view, the answer is not to bring more Christian refugees to the United States.

Rather, the answer is to help displaced Christians where they already are, in refugee camps in the Middle East. Murray does this every December through his Christmas For Refugees program and year-round through the Diapers For Refugees program. His hope is that the refugees are eventually able to go back home and resume their lives in their countries of origin.

“We need to encourage Christians to stay in the Middle East by assisting them to return to their homes and rebuild,” Murray asserted. “Sadly, neither Western governments nor the churches in the West seem to have any interest in assisting Christians. Currently President Trump is on a trip to the Middle East to sell even more high-tech arms to extremist Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Selling F-35s, THAAD missiles, Abrams tanks and other high-tech arms to Muslim nations is seen by the administration and the Congress as being in the better interest of the United States than protecting Christians from genocide.”

One of the greatest mysteries in Scripture – solved at last! Discover the terrifying truth behind the shadowy identity of one of the greatest horrors of the end times. New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson reveals the secret of “Mystery Babylon.” Available now in the WND Superstore.

 

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