The Suffering Servants

Today there’s a new Jewish prophet on the scene. No, I’m not adding to the canon of Scripture, and I’m not talking about the leader of some new sect. I’m talking about a Washington lawyer who has just won Prison Fellowship’s 1997 Wilberforce Award—the first non-Christian to do so. He is the man who has alerted the world to a problem most people prefer to ignore. I’m talking about Michael Horowitz, who first became known in Washington for his work in the Reagan administration. After his stint in politics, Horowitz could have accepted a judicial appointment or gone into a big-bucks private practice. Instead, he took up a cause. Horowitz has spent the past several years waking people up to a horrifying problem: the persecution of Christians worldwide. Thanks to his tireless advocacy, Mike has forced Congress, the news media, and even the president to confront some ugly realities. In the Sudan, Christians are being sold into slavery. In China, churches are being bulldozed by the Communists, even, shockingly, as we treat this nation as a favored trading partner. In Saudi Arabia, the government offers bounties to citizens who turn practicing Christians over to the authorities. In Vietnam, Iran, Cuba, Pakistan, and Ethiopia, Christians are arrested, tortured, and executed. And how has the U.S. government responded? I’m ashamed to say that instead of helping these tormented people, the U.S. sometimes aids their tormentors. For example, the U.S. helped repatriate Iranian Christians who had escaped to Turkey, sending them back to face even worse persecution than they had fled. “Why is it,” Horowitz asked, “that the only thing we’re allowed to import into Iran is Christians?” Horowitz made a public issue of worldwide persecution by lobbying Congress to hold hearings, by writing newspaper opinion pieces, and by never letting the president forget that his Christian brethren are suffering around the world. Of course, many people find it odd that a Jewish lawyer would take up the cause of Christians being persecuted. But Horowitz says: “I am doing this because I am a Jew—because I... see eerie parallels between what is happening to Christians today and what happened to my people during much of Europe’s history.” What are those parallels? First, Horowitz says, today’s Christians have become what he calls “the scapegoat of choice for the world’s thug regimes.” Second, he says, the civilized world has so far remained indifferent to their plight. Democratic countries are saying the same things about Christians that they said about the Jews some 60 years ago: These people “don’t quite fit in.... They insist on being a bit different. If they’ve got problems, they probably bring them on themselves.” If these troubling parallels continue, Horowitz warns, “Christians will become the Jews of the twenty-first century.” Prison Fellowship’s Wilberforce Award is named after the great Christian statesman of the nineteenth century, William Wilberforce. It’s awarded to people who demonstrate “exemplary perseverance in combating social injustice.” This is an award that has always gone to a prominent Christian. But this year the judges rightly decided that it belonged to a Jew—for being the greatest defender of our brothers and sisters around the globe. Thank you, Michael Horowitz.


Chuck Colson


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