Afghan convert to Christianity Abdul Rahman faces death penalty; Bush is concerned. I have to say, one of my first reactions to seeing this story headlined on CNN was, If it takes military involvement for the West to be concerned about Muslims killing Christians, maybe we should invade some more countries. No; not really. But this has been going on for the entire past century (not to mention the previous thirteen). More than a dozen Christians have been executed or lynched in Pakistan within the past few years for “blasphemy,” ie refusing to acknowledge Mohammed as a prophet, ie being Christians. Hundreds of Christians have been killed in Indonesia. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Christians killed or sold into slavery in the Sudan. And the Christians in Saudi Arabia, mostly foreign servants, jailed and tortured for having Bibles or meeting together to pray. And the Palestinian Christians who have been systematically driven out of Bethlehem and other PA-controlled areas. And the converts in Egypt whose families try to kill them (with varying success), or the priests who are killed every other year or so. And the religious violence in Nigeria, which is usually begun by Muslims, and kills mostly Christians, as the northern Islamic states try to impose the brutal sharia law.

I am glad that the media and the Western power have noticed the situation. It’s nice that they’re now horrified. But I have to ask, are they going to do anything serious? The State Department has been making vague protests for years; I don’t remember any cases where they actually made a difference. Are we really going to withdraw troops, or financial aid, from Afghanistan if this man is executed? What about if he’s released, and killed by a mob, while the police knowingly stand by? (Far the most likely outcome.)

I just noticed that the CNN story goes on to note suggestions by state prosecutors that Rahman is mentally incompetent. Quote, “We think he could be mad. . . He doesn’t talk like a normal person.” Ding ding ding. Soviet Union, anybody? Dissidents and evangelical Christians locked up in mental asylums, because anyone who would believe in God must be insane? Very cute. Maybe this is the way they will spare his life without losing face in front of Islamic religious leaders. Of course, there’s also the statement, at the end of the story, from the Afghani Foreign Minister, that “the government has nothing to do with the case.” I’m not completely clear how someone can be prosecuted by the state, before a judge, for breaking a law, and the government not be involved. Maybe Clinton could help them explain.

On the other hand, I have to say, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” I praise God for Rahman’s testimony. He said, “They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it.” This is a difficult thing to say, safe in the US; and God knows I don’t want to stay here. But as long as Christians in Muslim countries care more for their own safety than for the advancement of God’s kingdom, and the salvation of the Muslims, so long they will remain weak and few. The Church has always grown through trials. Pray God that this man’s testimony will be a challenge to other Christians in these countries, not to keep silent any longer. And for American Christians: We cannot in all conscience stay on the sidelines any longer. For too long Western Christians have avoided working in Muslim countries, because they’re “too dangerous.” Nothing is more dangerous than hanging back from an inevitable conflict. The gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church. With this promise, there is no real danger.