I knew what was coming, and I still found the film unsettling. It is however not without hope.
Faithkeepers is a new documentary that examines the plight of persecuted minorities, especially Christians, in the Middle East. It is not for the faint of heart, and is especially timely given the Palm Sunday attacks on Christians in Egypt.
We hear a lot about persecution in the media, but very little about the persecution of Christians, except for the occasional big events like those this past Sunday. Christianity is the world’s largest religion, so you wouldn’t think its adherents would need to fear their neighbours.
The truth is that in many places Christians are indeed subject to persecution, from the state as well as from individuals and groups who have different beliefs. One hundred million Christians face some sort of persecution annually. About 7,000 are killed each year just because they are Christians.
In North America those numbers seem unbelievable. Our idea of persecution is more along the lines of permitting prayer in schools or a nativity display in public places at Christmastime. Nobody here is being lined up to have their heads chopped off because they go to church on Sunday.
I don’t know if it is worse in the Middle East than some other places. Christians in Pakistan are frequently killed for their faith, with the apparent complicity of the state. In the Middle East though it seems more marked, perhaps because Christians used to be in the majority. Even a century ago Christians made up 20 per cent of the area’s population. Now it is less than one percent in some countries.
If statistics like that are new to you, then you should watch this film. I had the opportunity to see it last week at a special showing on Parliament Hill. Watching isn’t good enough though – once you have seen Faithkeepers you need to take action.
There are organizations standing up for those who are persecuted for their faith. One Free World International, who sponsored the film, is one of those. I had never heard of them before, so I can’t really tell you much about them.
There are other groups that you can get involved with that will let you know what is happening and how you can help. You might want to start by checking out Middle East Concern. I know some of the people there – they do good work.
We are horrified by what we see on the television news, but most people do little more than click like on a Facebook post.
Consider this your call to do more.