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BOOK REVIEW
Their Blood Cries Out
by Paul Marshall
Please Note, this is the book that inspired Christian Monitor. If I had never come across this book I would have still been ignorant about the suffering of Christians around the world. It is an important book.

"Their Blood Cries Out" (TBCO) is a masterfully written, meticulously researched, deeply compassionate and intellectually honest account of the persecution of millions of Christians around the world today. Marshall is careful to define a Christian as a person whose "Christian faith is a central aspect of their lives"(see Appendix D). Marshall has produced a much needed, up to date account of the suffering that is inflicted upon Christians today. TBCO surveys many countries and regions where persecution takes place, it examines the reasons and the causes of this persecution, and it tries to understand American (Western) apathy towards religious persecution. It is an honest, all round examination that informs, provokes and convicts.

TBCO is neatly divided into two independent sections: the first section is a global survey of countries where persecution takes place. The second part examines the reasons for the lack of interest in persecution and Marshall tries to come to an understanding of "why don¡¦t people care.¡¨

The first part of TBCO examines persecution in Islamic, communist, Hindu/Buddhist and Orthodox Christian countries. For each country covered, Marshall has carefully collated information and testimonials from easily verifiable sources. The book is well footnoted and his claims can be easily checked. This survey is an interesting investigation that is written with a deep sense of compassion and understanding. Marshall manages to avoid the pitfalls of gross generalizations and appropriately basis his work and conclusions on verifiable evidence. In writing this book, Marshall has traveled to about 20 of the countries he writes about. His willingness to examine the evidence first hand and to compile the stories of those who suffer and die for their faith should motivate unaware Christians to stand up for their persecuted brethren.

TBCO was written in 1997. Although the data presented in the book may be outdated, the overall analysis is still relevant. Many of the countries covered in the survey conducted in the first part of the book are still persecuting Christians and, in some cases, the persecution has become more intense. Since the WTC attacks Christians in Islamic countries have become increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Indonesia saw a drastic increase in communal violence in places like central Sulawesi. The Montagnards in Vietnam have, since December 2000 faced increasing persecution. Christians in North Korea still suffer immensely. And the list continues to grow. The reasons for the persecution remain the same, and the number of testimonies increases.

The second part of TBCO is a fascinating investigation into the apathetic stance that is taken by comfortable Christians and Western secularists. Many Christians, even when informed about their suffering brethren, would rather discuss other things. As Marshall himself says, "The subject of persecuted Christians is jarring to an obsession of personal peace."Elsewhere he comments that, "the vast body of Christians in the United States have abdicated their responsibility to deal with the persecution of Christians."Marshall notes that "the situation of Christians overseas is passed by silently."In my experience, many Christians don¡¦t care. Much of what Marshall has said in the second part of this book remains true today.

Marshall shows clearly, conclusively and concisely how modern evangelicals in the west are obsessed with finding inner peace and would rather not hear about persecuted Christians. Marshall also observes that the mainline Churches seek outer peace, they try to maintain the status quo. He documents many examples of when organizations like the National Council of Churches (NCC) have blatantly ignored persecution. This is still true today. Recently a leader in the United Methodist Church has denied that there is persecution in Vietnam and has insisted, at the behest of the Vietnamese government, that there is religious freedom in that country.

Secular organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are also examined. Although Marshall rightly credits them for the brilliant work they do for human rights abuses, he also admonishes them for ignoring the plight of Christians. Marshall also admits that, "though instances of the persecution of Christians and other religious figures may be covered, we lose a recognition of the extent of religious persecution that exists in the world." But Marshall shows understanding when he points out that the extent of human suffering in the world today is so great that it is virtually impossible for those organizations to cover it all. He humbly confesses that he, in his survey, has not covered some countries, like Laos, where persecution is severe but "the events seems less important than other things included."He compassionately, and devastatingly knowingly implicates himself by asking, "How can one say that someone¡¦s death is not important?¡¨

Marshall does not leave us in despair asking what can be done. The last chapter examines things people can do to help suffering Christians around the world. The most important step, in my opinion, is to let others know. Do not be shy, or be unwilling to disturb someone¡¦s peace, be prepared to discuss persecution whenever the opportunity arises and challenge others to care.

TBCO has inspired me, convicted me and humbled me. It has forced me to face issues that are not comfortable to face; it has pushed me to action within my own community. TBCO has challenged me to care, to care for others that live far and near. Will you allow yourself to be challenged? Do you care?

-PKS (09-Jan-2003)