By Bob Allen
Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.
Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”
“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”
The group described the “existential threat” to both religious minorities and moderate Muslim majorities in the region “a very real danger.”
They asked ministry partners to quickly urge governments and decision-makers in their countries to:
— Raise the awareness about imminent dangers facing Christians in the Middle East.
— Act immediately to stop the depletion, as well as the forced and ordered displacement of individuals and communities from their homelands, under the threat of arms.
— Work for a long-term strategy aimed at putting an end to violence, murder and the ejection of individuals and peoples from the Middle East.
The faith leaders said “a well-thought out strategy needs to be put in place in order to support Christian presence in the East, as well as the presence of other moderate components in the region” and noted that “humanitarian aid to victims of the ongoing violence is urgently needed.”
Baptist signers of the statement included Elie Haddad, president of Arab Baptist Theological Seminary; Joseph Kazzi, president of the Evangelical Baptist Convention in Lebanon; Daas Haddad, president of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Syria; Nabil Costa, general secretary of The League of Evangelical Schools in Lebanon; and Charles Costa, pastor of Baptist Evangelical Church of Ras Beirut, Lebanon.