The Middle East city of Mosul which has had Christians living there for 2,000 years saw the ISIS Muslims give them three choices in July: to leave, to convert or to pay up big time and be subject to Muslim Sharia law.
South Sudan has seen Muslims come to Christian towns and slaughter the inhabitants. Boko Haram Muslims in Nigeria have kidnapped well over 200 Christian teenage girls and killed many of the Christian men in the process.
Need I go on and on. I could wax lyrical and cite such examples, Already it has been established and stated in the British Parliament that eleven Christians are killed every day for no other reason than being a Christian.
The television series 'A History of Christianity', narrated and written by Cambridge's Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch's now on DVD (I have a copy), takes the viewer on a journey to reveal the types of Christianity lived by over the past two thousand years.
One thing is for certain, the format of Christian worship can be very different from one century to another, the periphery of Christian emphasis from one section of the organised communities of the followers of Christ have been vastly diverse, but the core central focus has never wavered.
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son of God born of Mary lived a sinless life and became sin for humankind on the Cross of Calvary dying for our sins, rising again the third day and ascended into heaven and will one day return a second time in triumph. These core beliefs are what theologians refer to as the Kerugma, the core essentials that can be found throughout the history of Christian dogma, practise and belief.
Therefore, when the news reader says that the Christian population has been turfed out of Mosul it means that people who are the descendants of centuries of these core Gospel doctrines and believe it themselves, are no longer a presence in that city.
It means that whenever the word Christian is invoked as being part of a community, whether that be in China, in Vietnam, in Myanmar, in Afghanistan, in Kenya, in Syria, in Peru, in Belgium ... where ever, those core essential beliefs are held by a community of follower of Jesus in those places.
One group might wear mediaeval looking hassocks, or wear refinery with brilliant jewellery, or white collars, or a plain suit or even modern unidentifiable dress codes, the critical component remains their core beliefs. This makes them Christian.
Some of these communities of Christian belief may even have different emphasis, even within a faith community. One section might be redemptionists (referred to elsewhere in these faith communities as Evangelicals and Pentecostals), another section might have an emphasis of social concern and set up specific ministries, often referred to as NGO's.
Whichever brand, whichever type, whichever emphasis, whichever history, whichever wardrobe, in this world connected by the Internet and from different religious groups, they are set apart because they are followers of Jesus Christ.
Why the persecution?
For two thousand years many of these communities of Christian belief have come in for the most ferocious persecution. Martyrdom was in some eras as common as the cold, imprisonment was part of an everyday threat and one must therefore ask what has been / is the philosophical impediment to living peaceably amongst those of other ilks.
There are in effect three central ingredients and as always, intertwined not quite ever knowing where one starts and the other finishes.
First, there are political considerations associated with the expenditure of the government's fiscal pie. If the Christians in the community have their say, then the monies might be spent one way, perhaps even well honed corruption bought to book.
Second, there are economic considerations and we see this as early as The Acts of the Apostles where the silversmiths rioted as the purchase of idols had dropped off as the population turned to Jesus. Today Christians lead the fight against multi-nationals with fair trade let alone supermarkets not giving farmers a fair price for farm produce.
Third, and most importantly, perhaps the critical aspect, has been the theological component, that if the Christians are right about sin, judgement, and the eternal consequences without forgiveness, that becomes so uncomfortable that the only escape is to put an end to such teaching. Mohammed and Jesus can't both be right!
Make no mistake, this is dangerous, and remains so today, seriously life threatening. There are forces at play, even in Australia that would have its citizenry enslaved to this or that ideology, over against the freedom that Christ brings.
Freedom is costly. Vigilance is essential. It is in our hands, every citizen to be involved in their communities to guard against anything that would become incremental to our security against such wiles. That's Gospel 101.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html