Nearly half of Iraq's 800,000 Christians have fled their homeland in the last seven years. At one time the nation of Lebanon was 75% Christian. Since the Syrian incursion it is now down to 39%. Much of Iraq's Christian community has fled to Lebanon. Many are now in the U.S.
On October 31, Al-Qaeda attacked a church in Baghdad, killing at least 58 people. Since then, two more attacks have been carried out on Christians in Iraq’s capital city. The increased persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is partly motivated by fear: Christianity is making major inroads among Muslims who have become disillusioned with their faith. [emphasis mine~sig94]
The Islamic State of Iraq, a front for Al-Qaeda, declared responsibility for the church massacre. “All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahideen wherever they can reach them,” the terrorist group declared. Eyewitnesses say that the gunmen said, “We are here to avenge the burning of the Qurans and the jailing of Muslim women in Egypt!” However, one hostage said another gunman stated, “We will go to paradise if we kill you and you will go to hell.” Make no mistake about it: The gunmen attacked because they have been indoctrinated into believing it is Allah’s command to do so.
I have missionary friends who tell me that there are surprisingly successful evangelism efforts throughout the Near East and Africa. As a Muslim can be murdered for leaving his faith, it is not surprising that many conversions are not publicized.
In the Palestinian territories, the story is not much different. Bethlehem is now almost entirely Muslim as Christians have departed their historical city. When I visited the West Bank, a church told me of how a close relative had been brutally murdered for preaching Christianity. His church is frequently threatened and attacked and he said the Palestinian Authority police was uninterested in protecting them. In the Gaza Strip, where there are 3,500 Christians, some have been forced to help Hamas. After the terrorist group took over, Christian graves were dug up so the bodies could be burned so the Islamic land would be pure.
Look to see more violent reactions against Christians as the mask continues to fall off the Religion of Peace. As much of the world's evangelism is funded by Christians in the U.S., perhaps we shall see some of this same violence perpetrated against our own churches.