LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
December 7, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Sadad is an ancient Christian village in Syria located in a remote desert area between Homs and Damascus. It is mentioned in Numbers 34:7 in delineating the borders of the land of Israel. Because of its remoteness over 600 Syrian Christians had fled there recently to escape the brutality of the Syrian civil war. It was one of the few places they could feel secure.
In late October the U. S. supported jihadi rebels occupied the town for over a week until ousted by the Syrian military. Archbishop Selwanos Alnemeh, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, gives us a report of this worst Christian massacre in Syria and the second worst in the Middle East after the one in the Church of our Lady of Salvation in Iraq in 2010. Fifteen hundred families were held captive and used as human shields. All the churches were ransacked, robbed, and desecrated. Forty-five innocent civilians were murdered, many women and children. Many of these were dumped into mass graves. Thirty more were wounded and ten are still missing. All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property was looted.
The Archbishop concluded his report on Sadad by saying, “We have shouted for aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is the human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in morning and discomfort. We ask everyone to pray for us.”
I have reported this one incidence not because it is rare. It is one specific example which is only the tip of the iceberg. It also went largely unreported in our Western media, as has the situation of Christians in the Middle East in general.
In contrast I listened this week to an address by Benjamin Netanyahu given in Jerusalem to a convention of the Christians United for Israel. Netanyahu is, of course, the Prime Minister of Israel. He spoke on the shared values of Christians and Jews. He began by telling the story of David and Bathsheba and the sin of David the king. He then mentioned the confrontation of David by the prophet Nathan who told David the story of the man who took the one sheep of the poor man who had only one. When David responded with righteous indignation Nathen accused him with the words, “You are the man.”
I was impressed by the fact that the Head of State would give a Bible exposition to make his point. His point was interesting. Only nations who accept the authority of God as superior to the authority of the state would permit such a scenario. In any other nation which existed in David’s time Nathen would have lost his head.
In the Middle East there is only one nation where Christians are safe. There is only one nation where the Christian population is growing and not being decimated. That nation is Israel.
As we prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas we will sing songs like “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “O Come, Emmanuel.” Israel was not as safe for Christians under Rome as it is today. God invaded history in the coming of the Messiah. As Herod killed the children of Bethlehem, many are still trying to wipe out the “good news” that God is still in authority and is offering forgiveness and salvation to those who will receive it. Christmas is a time to decide what side we are on.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org) END-whs