Headlines of War and Human Suffering
3,500 Houses Destroyed Thousands Fleeing
City Under Attack People Held Captive
These are headlines in the news lately. We have heard many terrible stories from Syria and Egypt as Islamist forces have been attacking and destroying properties of Christians and using fear and terror to cripple cities. These two headlines, however, are not about Syria or Egypt.
The first headline concerns the Central African Republic, a country of 4.5 million, where a militant group called Séléka has been attacking and destroying Christian homes.
The second headline is about the city of Zimboanga in the Philippines. In that city of more than one million people, an extremist Islamic separatist group called Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has sent in a few hundred well-armed terrorists to hold the city hostage. Their demand…a new separate country.
In both places, the Islamic population is a small minority. In both places, Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for many years. There are more places that could be added to this list: Uttar Pradesh, India; Kaduna, Nigeria; Basilan, Philippines and unfortunately, the list is growing.
With all of these violent occurrences, there will be need for help. Refugees will need shelter, churches and schools will need rebuilding. The Christian message of hope will need to be proclaimed by our actions.
Recently, the Holy Father has asked Catholics and people of faith around the world to fast and pray for peace and an end to war. We Christians are challenged by our call to love our enemy and seek peaceful resolutions. We are challenged by our sense of fairness and justice to not let those in these violent places to suffer without protection.
It is a challenging time for us Christian observers. We must follow Pope Francis’s example and pray with earnestness. We must answer the calls for help from those who are suffering with strength and true Christian love.