Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Facts, Hard Truths

Algeria is a country I knew little about before starting at The Voice of the Martyrs. I knew it was a North African nation, but I hadn't heard as much about it as African countries such as Egypt, Nigeria or Guinea. As such, I didn't have any presuppositions about its political or religious climate--and I certainly had no idea that Christians are being persecuted there.

While putting together the July edition of our monthly newsletter, which focuses on Algeria and Morocco, I tried to imagine how I might have reacted if I read the feature back when I knew very little about the trials facing the Algerian church. Would I trust it, believe it, be moved by it? What if this glimpse of Algeria came just after I had read the comments recently made by Algeria's Minister of Home Affairs and Local Authorities, who said that the nation respects fundamental religious freedoms? Or after I'd read The Minister of Religious Affairs' claim that Christian groups are trying to "destabilize the country and sow divergences between people"? Would I have chosen to rest in these claims rather than accept the reports of religious rights denied, churches closed and believers beaten?

I'd like to think, of course, that I would have responded to VOMC's report on Algeria with trust and conviction. But perhaps the claims of these officials would have been enough to give me a little pinch me with doubt or disbelief. If, for example, I already had a picture in my mind of Algeria as a country respectful of religious freedom, I might not have wanted my peaceful view punctured by reports of oppression and injustice. Pleasant falsities are, after all, more appealing than hard truths.

When our July newsletter goes out next week, I will be especially thinking about and praying for the readers on whose ears the reality of persecution in Algeria and Morocco is falling afresh, that the truth of the trials and triumphs of the suffering faithful in these countries will radiate in their hearts and enrich their relationships with Christ.

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