Genre: Contemporary Issues/Religious Intolerance, Persecution & Conflict
After a captivating introduction to some of the main themes and questions regarding persecution, author and journalist John L. Allen shares numerous stories of persecution and martyrdom organized by region (Asia, Africa, Latin America, The Middle East, and Eastern Europe, then sub-categorized by countries within each).
Many of the stories are emotional or heart-wrenching, others are more “typical.” And sadly, I found that reading too many stories at once caused them to jumble together after awhile (probably the wrong response, but that is the difficulty with a subject like this).
Part two then addresses some of the myths surrounding persecution–for instance the myth that Christians are only persecuted in areas where they are the minority, or the myth that only Muslims persecute Christians. And the third part concludes with discussing the “Social and Political Fallout,” “Spiritual Fruits of the Global War,” and “What’s to Be Done.”
I really enjoyed both of these final sections. Part two, especially, gave me a lot to think about. Moreover, the final chapter provided a few very good and practical ways to respond. The crux of the book, though, is to understand the intensity of Christian persecution around the world, and to be moved to care about our brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe the author succeeds at this goal.
Also, there is a strong emphasis on the persecution of Catholic believers since the author himself is Catholic and most connected to Catholic sources. I have so far only encountered Protestant para-church organizations dealing with persecution (e.g. The Voice of the Martyrs), so I really appreciated this (unique-to-me) perspective. Other denominations, of course, are also included throughout.
Follow this link for a preview of the first chapter.