Wednesday, May 13, 2009

004. Christians: trapped and displaced by war

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 004 | Wed 13 May 2009


Warfare between a weaker force and stronger force is described as 'asymmetric'. To compensate, the militarily inferior, weaker forces generally rely heavily on Psychological Operations (PsyOps) including terrorism, the use of human shields and propaganda. These tactics are especially effective in influencing the policies of democracies, especially when sensationalist journalism and popularist politics are more highly valued than discerning research and uncovering truth. It is very difficult to defeat a militarily weaker force so immoral as to use human shields because the cost of the stronger force's military victory is usually deemed unacceptable.

North Vietnamese communists, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Balkan Islamists all used PsyOps to their advantage. Al-Qaeda (and its affiliates), the Taliban, Hezballah, Hamas, MILF (Moro jihadists, South Philippines) and LTTE (Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka) all wage war this way. These conflicts always involve high civilian casualty rates and refugee crises. Amongst the victims are numerous Christians. In fact, in places where there are Christians they will generally be the terrorist's pragmatic choice for human shields as they are not only despised and considered expendable, but their deaths can be exploited as propaganda to the 'Christian' West. In some places, whole Christian communities have been eliminated through death and displacement.

At this time, the largest Christian refugee population is Iraqi. When American troops withdraw and the sectarian war resumes (the Shi'ites are presently showing restraint), the need will be even greater than it is now. Elsewhere, some half-a-million Pakistanis have fled their homes in Swat, Buner, Shangla and Lower Dir districts of North West Frontier Province as Pakistani forces pound Taliban positions. 'Minorities Concern of Pakistan' reports that some 60 Christian families reached Rasalpur (near Peshawar) on 9 May.

As they are religious minorities, the disempowered and marginalised Christian refugees often struggle to be able to access the aid and support offered by local and international aid agencies. Christian groups such as Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, Baroness Cox's 'HART' (Humanitarian Aid and Relief Trust), the World Evangelical Alliance, Barnabas Fund and many others work sacrificially and amidst danger to get aid and relief directly into the hands of traumatised and displaced Christians, as well as to the local churches that struggle to care for them. All that is needed is for free churches to embrace a spirit of generosity in obedience to the word and in brotherly love for our own brethren, our own 'flesh'. For the Church has a special responsibility to tend the wounded body of Christ.


* Christian individuals and communities that are presently trapped in war zones -- may the Lord be their fortress and deliverer, the rock in whom they take refuge; may he be their shield and stronghold and may every trapped believer look to him and know his salvation. (Psalm 18:1-19).

* Christians who are displaced -- may the Lord provide their every need and protect and restore them according to his generous and tender mercy. (Psalm 23)

* the Spirit of God to stir up a spirit of generosity in the churches so that Christian refugees will not be left without food or shelter simply because of lack of funds. (Matthew 6:3,4; Matthew 25:31-40; Philippians 4:15-20)

True fasting: 'Is this not the fast that I choose . . . to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?' (Isaiah 58:7 ESV)



As violence escalates in Iraq and conflict rages against the Taliban in Pakistan as well as against the LTTE in Sri Lanka, many Christians are amongst the multitudes of civilians trapped in war zones or being used as human shields. These trapped Christians are in great need of divine protection and deliverance. Many other Christians have become displaced and homeless. They urgently require aid and shelter. Yet, as they are religious minorities, the disempowered and marginalised Christians often struggle to be able to access local and international aid. Pray that the Christian aid organisations specialising in delivering aid directly to Christians will have all the funds, supplies and volunteers they need to tend the wounded body of Christ.