This young girl suffered burns in violence against Christians in Orissa state, India where some 35 died at the hands of Hindu extremists recently. When I try and tell people that it costs dear to be a Christian in many parts of the world, that Christians suffer persecution, violence, torture and death for their faith and that more Christians have been martyred in the last century than in the previous 1900 years they simply don't believe it. They look at the church at the end of the road, the worshippers in their comfortable, middle-class Sunday best and equate that with the sum of Christianity. This report from Barnabus Fund gives the true picture and should shake us out of our complacency, not just as Christians, but as human beings.
This is the stuff that doesn't get reported in the news, but that goes on every day of the week somewhere in the world. It is ironic that when it comes to religion and violence so many equate Christianity with violence, citing the Crusades (that happened over 900 years ago and have their own political/historical explanations), and 19th century missionary imperialism (not recognising the great good that has been done in the name of church and mission), while equating so-called "peaceful" Eastern religions with pacifism. We are anxious to believe the best of those we see as mystical and romantic, and the worse of that faith that has given us almost every good value we cherish today, the great worth of the individual; the high premium placed on charity; the imperative of justice under the law; the importance of mercy and our responsibilities to society, family and friends.
We also harbour a narrow view of the world that does not allow that such things could possibly happen today. People look at me incredulously when I try and disabuse them of such naive thinking and yet here is the evidence, irrefutable and sickening. Its not such a small world, its not such a civilised world and, without Christianity, its not such a peaceful world. Perhaps for some this is too much reality.