A Holy War

Last week I had dinner with a man who stands between Christian believers and another holocaust—this one in Africa. I'm talking about Catholic Bishop Macram Max Gassis, whom I met in New York City a few days ago. We had a long talk about the barbaric war against Christian believers in Sudan—and he told me what Americans can do to stop it. Bishop Gassis is a devoutly committed Christian—articulate and intelligent. Looking into this man's eyes, I saw both unflinching courage and a tremendous love for Christ. It's partly through his efforts that the West has learned how Sudan's radical Islamic government persecutes the church. That persecution includes daily bombing of Christian villages, the enslavement of Christian children, rape, starvation, and murder. Millions of lives are at risk. In the midst of these horrors, Bishop Gassis has stood courageously with his people, unafraid to tell the whole world what's happening. For that he has become the most wanted man in Sudan. He's in the U.S. now, the bishop told me, because pressure from the United States is the only thing that will stop the genocide. The Islamic government knows it can get away with anything, and it's determined to wipe out Christians. It's a holy war—and the Islamic government will win unless the U.S. gets tough. The bishop is pleading with Americans to do two things: First, to keep after our government to enforce sanctions and other pressures against Sudan. Second, he's pleading with us to pray for the suffering Church. This is a good time to begin, because this Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Around the world, millions of Christians will be praying for fellow believers who are persecuted for their faith in Sudan, China, Iran, Egypt, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Vietnam, and many other countries. We should never underestimate the power of prayer. Consider: Two years ago, few people even knew that Christians were being persecuted. When human rights groups and the president talked about abuses, they meant political dissidents. They ignored the attacks on house churches in China and the Chinese bishops who were getting their fingernails pulled out. They ignored what was happening in Sudan, where it seemed that every last Christian would be hunted down and killed before our government would do anything about it. Those trying to help persecuted believers had neither million-dollar lobbying budgets nor the ears of media elites. And yet, in just two years, we've seen action by the Congress and the State Department condemning abuses in Sudan and China, two of the worst human rights violators. College students across the country have taken up the cause. We've educated millions of Americans about what's going on overseas. It's one of the great stories of the twilight of this century—how Christians made the magic of democracy work and began to rescue hundreds of millions. But we can't stop now. Millions are still counting on us. We must re-commit ourselves to both prayer and action. We must continue to speak out on behalf of the people Bishop Gassis is willing to risk his life to protect. Whenever we do, God rolls up his sleeves—and makes great things happen. (For information about what you can do to help persecuted believers in Sudan, contact the following web sites: and


Chuck Colson


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