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March 7, 2018

Are You Reading Fake News or Myopic News?

Dr. John Neufeld

I spent a considerable amount of time today on the “Open Doors Canada” website. While the media has exposed Justin Trudeau’s embarrassing trip to India, the threat of U.S. tariffs against Canadian steel and aluminum, the latest in the Donald Trump scenario and so on, I am reminded of the many news sites which Christians should be visiting frequently. Open Doors Canada is one of them.


I again learned of the 11 countries in the world that are rated as having situations of “extreme persecution levels” for Christians in those countries, and I paused to pray. I have been to some of those countries, and real faces and names of wonderful believers came to mind. I then turned to a number of news items and was amazed to find that crown prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is working to reform Saudi society. Part of his plans include the implementation of a more “moderate and balanced form of Islam.” He wants Islam to be open to the world and to all religions and traditions of people. I wondered, what could that mean? Will freedoms be afforded to the minority Christian community in the center of Islam? Again, I prayed.


I noticed that last month, Amnesty International produced a list of 159 countries showing what religious persecution is like in these countries. These include threats, attacks, extrajudicial killings and even genocide. Furthermore, in many of these countries, death sentences have been handed out for changing religions. I prayed for the many evangelists and their converts in some of these countries.


And then I went through the many news stories. “Boko Haram is launching fresh attacks in Cameroon.” Two more churches were just closed in Algeria. I learned of Christians who were held in Evin Prison in Iran. And then I read of a Malaysian federal court which refused four people their right to affirm their Christian identity. And I learned more about the persecution of my brothers and sisters in Christ in Nepal.


But, of course, I did not remain on the Open Doors Canada site. I also regularly visit a number of other Christian sites, which speak of news in our part of the world. I noticed that Washington state is set to put forward a new bill that would redefine parenting, called the “Uniform Parentage Act.” But it wasn’t all bad news. I learned of “Option Line,” a U.S. pregnancy helpline which has saved three million babies from abortions over 15 years. And on that track of thinking, I learned that one of the candidates running for the Conservative leadership in Ontario is pro-life. I prayed for her.


Why am I mentioning all these things? For one, I am concerned that Christians pray. But I am also concerned that many Christians only source of news is the same source of secular media that everyone else gets.


No, I am not speaking about “fake news.” I am speaking about “myopic news.” I am speaking about news that only focuses on issues acceptable to the secular mindset. And I am staggered at how often I speak to Christians who have no idea of the worldwide state of the church, and of the issues that are close to the heart of the gospel. When we don’t read our Bibles and when we are not aware of what God is doing in the world, is it any wonder we have no ability to build our faith? When all we hear of the Christian faith are the scandals of those who have acted unworthy of the Gospel, and are never overwhelmed with the sacrifices of the faithful, have we really been getting the news at all?

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