WASHINGTON – The problem here in America where people don't see that much Christian persecution is that most don't realize how bad it is in many places around the world – nor do they know what to do about it.
That's why Bishop Keith Butler, the chairman of Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), says the first crucial goal is just waking people up.
"Public awareness is very important," Bishop Keith Butler told CBN News at a news conference in the National Press Club. "Remember when Bill Clinton was president of the United States, awareness was so big about Muslims being murdered in Bosnia and all that? The United Nations got involved!"
Catching the Eye to Capture the Heart
In order to grow that awareness about suffering Christians, Butler's group is offering churches free banners and, at cost, huge and eye-catching panels that highlight atrocities against Christians in specific nations.
He said STPC's goal is "to get to every church, every Christian organization, every state, every Christian. We must get Christendom to get together on this issue."
Butler hopes his group's efforts will spur Americans to action.
"Hopefully, they will pressure their legislators," he said. "Whoever's in the White House, it's not going to matter because they're going to be involved with this. The United Nations will be involved with this."
He also suggested believers could take many other actions, much like some of those involved with STPC do.
"We have parts of our coalition that do everything from rescue people in troubled areas physically, to provide housing and finding places where they can settle," he remarked. "A lot of things can be done in this."
'Murder on a Genocidal Scale'
Monitors estimate 245 million Christians face heavy persecution. STPC Executive Director Dede Laugesen stated one group puts it much higher.
"Aid to the Church in Need at the end of November said there's a half-billion," she told CBN News.
At an event held to announce STPC is becoming an official nonprofit, its president, Frank Gaffney, called what's happening to believers in much of the world "murder on a genocidal scale."
Speaking of Christians who are "marginalized, imprisoned, tormented," he noted that "this is happening in our time, on our watch."
Women & Children Bear the Brunt
STPC notes that it's Chrisitan women and children, not men, who are the hardest hit.
"We're very concerned about women," Laugesen said. "Women are doubly persecuted, first for being a woman and second for being Christian in so many of these countries. And, in fact, 60 percent of the persecuted Christians are children."
Gaffney said STPC's effort to get banners in front of every church harkens back to the campaign of publicizing the plight of the Soviet Jews in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, which became a massive movement. That then became political leverage and turned into a high-level ratcheting up of economic pressure on the Soviet Union until it finally cracked.
Butler also suggested prayer must be an early and key element in today's efforts, stating, "Every success is a prayer success first. Every failure is a prayer failure first."
'God Moves Because We Pray'
While skeptics may scoff at prayer, Butler says Christians need to do it for their suffering brethren.
The bishop notes how the book of Galatians admonishes believers to "'Do good unto all men,' but then it says 'ESPECIALLY to those of the household of faith.' That starts with prayer."
"God moves because we pray," he explained. "That word 'especially,' when you read the Greek, means 'more important than anything else.' So it's to pray for those people. We must do it because they are the heart of God."
STPC hopes to magnify its power by becoming an official nonprofit, able to accept tax-deductible donations.
"We're so excited to be able to grow this movement into something that is an irresistible force," Laugesen stated, "to come in behind our elected officials who want to move in this space and do something about the persecution of Christians around the world."
Butler added, "We're looking forward for the average person…particularly Christian… to really get involved in this matter."
Laugesen concluded, "Christians in America can stand in the gap for Christians around the world. It's really important that America come in beside our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering so…a record number."