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Persecution Gives Rise to Interest in Christianity
Lillian Kwon

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Religious persecution remains high throughout the Middle East despite noted increases in freedom. But, as it seems, the antagonism has given rise to greater interest in the Christian faith.


Religious persecution remains high throughout the Middle East despite noted increases in freedom. But, as it seems, the antagonism has given rise to greater interest in the Christian faith.
“Efforts to suppress and to vilify Christians, for some people, actually produce a reaction that increases their curiosity and their interest,” according Lee DeYoung, vice-president of Words of Hope. “And thankfully, we’ve heard accounts of people who quietly share, Christians sharing with Muslim neighbors who ask them about their faith and why they believe what they believe.”
DeYoung noted in a recent interview with Mission Network News that such countries as Saudi Arabia are known to be more open to the “idea of wondering” about Christianity than other Middle East countries.
Saudi Arabia , however, has been cited for its worsened political rights or civil liberties in the latest Freedom House report – “Freedom in the World 2006.” The only other Middle East country with worsened human rights was Iraq .
Amid the rising Christian interest, violence in the Middle East continues to victimize religious organizations including raids of Christian worship services in Saudi Arabia and the latest bombings of four Iraqi churches that left at least three dead and nine wounded. The four car bombs exploded outside the churches Sunday afternoon within a short 20-minute span. The ongoing violence comes as Christians continue to flee from the country.
Nevertheless, the increased talks and acts of antagonism open an “invitation to explain what Christianity is about.”
A question many in the Middle East can direct to Christians is, “Well, what is it about you that causes people to be so opposed in my country, or among others who share my religion?”
“And that,” DeYoung said, “leads to opportunities for dialogue, or it leads to interest in hearing radio programs.”
Words of Hope produces missionary radio broadcasts that are heard around the world. With Christian radio in Arabic and Farsi throughout the Middle East , the over 60-year-old faith ministry addresses the growing hunger and curiosity for the Christian faith as it serves to proclaim Jesus Christ.