Franklin Graham: Christians Can Learn from Russian Church's Suffering
The Russian Church's perseverance in the face of intense suffering during the communist era makes Moscow the perfect place to host a persecution summit, evangelist Franklin Graham told CBN News.
More than a thousand Christians of all branches of Christianity will attend the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians October 28-30 in Moscow. Graham organized the summit in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church.
"People will ask me, 'Well, why of all the places would you go to Moscow?' The reason is because under communism, the Church in Russia suffered more under 70 years than any church I know in modern history," Graham said. "The priests of the Orthodox Church -- they lost about 99 percent of their priests; they were executed -- Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics -- they were taken out and shot."
"And so here is a Church that understands and has lived through persecution," Graham continued. "Let's have it in a country where the people understand, and they have lived through it themselves."
Graham says the brutal persecution against Christians taking place these days prompted him to hold the summit.
"When you see heads being chopped off, when you see people being burned alive, when you see people put in cages and drowned. We work in the Middle East; we work a lot in Iraq; we have worked for years in Syria, and I get the reports back from the churches -- what's happening to them," he said. "We've got to do something to draw attention to the suffering Church around the world, and so much of that is now under Islam."
"But we also see it under secularism here in this country where gays and lesbians will target bakers and people like that so that they can put them out of business -- use the law to put them out of business," he continued.
"And that's why it's so important to get lawmakers in there who can help change these laws so that Christians aren't persecuted because they stand for their faith or because they want to live out their faith, and they're not going to be penalized and put out of business," he explained.
Graham hopes the summit will encourage countries not to be silent and to support Christians.
"Hopefully, the nations of the world will see the importance of standing behind people and defending them," he said. "Prince Charles said several years ago that Christianity will be extinct in the Middle East in the next five years at the rate it's going -- the next five years the Christian community will cease to exist in Syria where it has been since the Apostle Paul went to Damascus. The Church has been in Syria since the Apostle Paul, and it's being wiped out."
"The Church has been in Iraq; the Church was in Saudi Arabia up 'til a few centuries ago, and Islam has finally destroyed the Church and has killed the Christians, and they had large Jewish communities in that part of the world; they have been destroyed," he continued.
"And so we're seeing now the elimination of the Church throughout the Middle East by Islam -- Islam. And they call it radical Islam -- you can call it whatever you want -- it's Islam," he said.
Graham says Christians around the world can support the summit by praying. He says not just evangelical Christians will be attending.
"The Orthodox are going to bring all of their leadership from the Orthodox world; it will be the first time that anything like that has happened with evangelical Christians," he said. "The Catholic Church has said they're going to support it, that they're going to be sending their representatives to it as well."
"So it's Christianity," he continued. "People may condemn me: 'Well, Franklin you're hobnobbing with these people who are not evangelicals.' That's okay. They represent Christ; they represent the Cross. I may not worship the way they worship; I may disagree with them on theological issues."
"But yet the Catholic Church is being butchered in the Middle East. The Orthodox are being butchered. Pentecostals are being butchered. Presbyterians, I mean you name it, every Christian group, whoever represents the Cross of Christ is suffering," Graham said. "And it's happening around the world, and we're seeing it happen in our country from the secularists where are freedoms are slowly being eroded."