A little over a week ago tragedy struck. Members of the Islamic terrorist organization, Al-Shabaab, lead a vicious attack on Garissa University in Kenya; killing 147 and injuring 79 more. You may have heard a blurb about it on the radio, seen a few scenes on the evening news, maybe a facebook status or two.
One thing you didn’t see what an eruption of outrage. You didn’t see celebrities posting pictures of themselves, in some self-ingratiating pose, with a cleverly sounding hash-tag. You didn’t see protestors taking to the streets, or any riots ensuing. You probably didn’t see any big name politicians condemning the attack. In fact, you might not have seen anything about it at all.
This is a little surprising given how easily we get outraged. We scream when Chik Fil A dares to stand up for traditional family values. We threaten mass boycotts when Hobby Lobby feels it is not their responsibility to subsidize a woman’s sex life. We go into an uproar because we are worried that a few Gays might be discriminated against in Indiana. We explode with outrage when a doped-up, violent, criminal gets shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Even better, we erupt into riots and looting in the streets when the aforementioned police officer is not strung up from a tree for doing his duty to serve and protect his community. We are arguably the most easily outraged society that the world has ever known.
But when 147 students are ruthlessly murdered in Kenya there is nothing. Why is that?
Well, if what some of the sentiment I’ve been hearing is correct it’s because Kenya is in Africa, and the western world doesn’t care about Africa. There may be a little bit of truth to that. A lot of things in Africa really aren’t on most American’s radar, and that isn’t entirely their fault. Africa is pretty far away. I personally have a better feel for what happens on the African continent simply because I grew up there. When tragedy strikes Africa it touches me in a personal way. However, I haven’t the faintest idea what’s going on in Tibet right now. I am completely ignorant of that part of the world. An even worse atrocity may also have happened there, and I know nothing about it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about people in Tibet. It just means it is beyond my normal plane of existence. So I think a lot of criticisms about the Western World not always bursting into outrage when injustice strikes in the heart of Africa are a little unfair. It is human nature to be more focused on what is happening closer to you.
That being said, I don’t think the fact this incident was in Africa is entirely the reason why you haven’t heard much about this. If that were true you probably would never have heard of Boko Haram and his abduction of girls in Africa, but you have. I’m sure you remember last year’s #BringBackOurGirls bandwagon that countless celebrities and politicians jumped on. That was in Africa, and yet it still made its way into the mainstream of American culture, for at least a little while.
So why has this incident in Garissa produced almost no response? Could it have anything to do with the fact most of the 147 dead were Christian, and the attackers were Muslim. Right now about the only thing more popular than sticking up for the Gay’s right to trample on a Christian’s freedom is to pretend that the recent epidemic of Islamic violence against Christians doesn’t exist.
Sure, we have all heard about the storm of violence and bloodshed raging through Iraq and Syria as ISIS declares all-out war against Christianity. Sure we all heard about the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France, made in the name of Islam. But no sooner do either of those atrocities come to our attention, are our ever courageous leaders standing up to remind us that, while these acts are horrific and are to be condemned, Islam is really a “peaceful religion”.
Apparently we are supposed to forget the history books. Forget that the only reason that Islam is wide spread today is because it was spread by the tip of a jihadist’s sword. Forget the horrific attacks made by Al Qaeda over the last several decades (Nairobi and Dar Es Salam in 1998, the Pentagon and World Trade center on 9/11, just to name a couple). Forget about Islamic Sharia Law, which is an abomination against basic human rights, especially against women. No, we must forget all that and remember that this religion is “peaceful”.
According to our society, the fact the attackers in Garissa were attacking in the name of Islam is already reason to try and ignore it and brush it under the rug. It is just another reminder of the Islamic violence that we are supposed to pretend doesn’t exist. However, even more reason to ignore it is because the victims were, by-and-large, Christians. After all, Christians are a bunch of bigots and homophobes, right? Why should we get in an uproar when a few of them are ruthlessly slaughtered? One black criminal dies in Ferguson and the World Wide Web explodes with #blacklivesmatter. What about Christian lives? Do they not matter?
We as Christians should open our eyes more to what’s going on. It’s becoming painfully clear that our society is moving further and further in the direction of outlawing religion, especially Christianity. Sure right now they are only attacking a business owner’s religious freedom, but it probably won’t stop there. Our society is becoming increasingly intolerant of conservative Christianity, attacking it any chance they get. And 147 dead in Garissa going unnoticed demonstrates a complete apathy for the suffering of the Christian abroad. Intolerance and apathy are but a few short steps ahead of outright condemnation.
What are we, as Christians, to do? Should we erupt in an outrage of our own, demanding justice for the victims of ISIS and Al-Shabaab?
We Christians should open our eyes, but outrage is not the answer. We should not be surprised when the world turns against us, in fact, we should expect it. Right now in America we live a pretty cushy life, and few of us have had to make any real sacrifices for our faith, but we should not forget that Jesus told us to expect to suffer in his name.
You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
And not only should we expect it, but we should rejoice in it:
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:13-14)
So let us not lose hope that our faith is becoming less and less popular. Let us not be afraid that we may have to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ. If such trials and tribulations come our way it should only serve to confirm our faith and strengthen our resolve.
Do the Christian lives lost in Garissa matter? Absolutely, even if there is no outpouring of #GarissaMatters. Even if the world ignores them, their Father in heaven will not ignore them. The faithful in Garissa have given the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ. They shared in Christ’s suffering and death, and they shall share in the Glory of Christ’s resurrection. We should rejoice for them. They are now at peace with our Heavenly Father, feeling the infinite joy of His presence. Yes, it is a tragedy that their lives on this earth have been cut short. Their loved ones will undoubtedly mourn their loss, as they should and so should we with them. But they should also take heart knowing that their reward in heaven will be the greatest of all because of their sacrifice. God will honor them among the saints for what they have done, and what they have given, for His sake.
Most of all; the lives of the dead Christians in Garissa matter because their death served a purpose. The Islamic terrorist thought they were achieving victory over the Christians, but their victory will be short lived. Ours is an eternal victory in heaven, while theirs is a fleeting breath in the wind. For the world will see the courage and faith of these people and will see the light of Christ. God will take this horrible evil act and use it to bring others to salvation. Their death has the greatest meaning it could possibly have. They died bringing Glory to God. May the same be said some day for us.
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