‘The People of the Cross’ Exhibit a Moving and Powerful Display from Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition
WASHINGTON—Many Christians here in the U.S. try to sympathize with their brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted worldwide. Putting names and faces to these massive numbers—215 million—can be difficult.
Therefore, the Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) Coalition, which advocates on behalf of the 215 million persecuted Christians around the globe, has created and is sharing “The People of the Cross” exhibit, which features a series of banners detailing Christian persecution in countries around the world. “The People of the Cross” exhibit is a traveling display that is available for churches, public venues and special events.
Banners feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as North Korea, where Christians are tortured or worse; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; Nigeria and East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent; and China, where Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches and shrines are being demolished.
“When people have a chance to see The People of the Cross exhibit telling the story of anti-Christian violence in so many countries, it really moves them,” said Dede Laugesen, director of the Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition. “Most are shocked to learn the violence and abuse have become so bad and are surprised to hear that Christians are the world’s most persecuted religious group. People tell me they’ve heard some of the stories in the news, but the exhibit helps them understand how widespread the situation has become, and how important it is to find a way to help those harmed for their faith in Jesus.”
One banner features Pastor Andrew Brunson, who earlier this year was released from imprisonment in Turkey after two years. Free at last, Brunson’s updated banner reads: “Pastor Brunson’s release came after the United States adopted the tools recommended by the Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition from its founding: hold the persecutors accountable and impose costs for their crimes against humanity. Turkey had good financial and strategic reasons to release Brunson, including the threat of further U.S. sanctions if he were not freed.”
An accompanying banner in the exhibit highlights “brutal persecution” in Turkey, where just .02 percent of Turks are Christian, down from 20 percent in 1920. “Oppression has reduced Christianity from 20 percent before WWI to near extinction,” the banner reads. “No clergy may be ordained; confiscated church properties become museums or mosques—or simply deteriorate. Some of the world’s oldest Christian communities are disappearing.”
Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who was recently acquitted on charges of blaspheming Islam that carried a death sentence, is also featured on a banner as a prisoner of conscience. Bibi’s life is still in danger from Islamic radicals intent on her death as efforts are underway to gain asylum and safely move her and her family from Pakistan.
The exhibit was designed with the help of a consultant to the national Holocaust museum and premiered in July at the U.S. Capitol for lawmakers as a side event to the first ever U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback. Since then, the exhibit has been touring the United States and is available for display in many states.
To learn more about hosting a “The People of the Cross” exhibit at an event, contact Save the Persecuted Christians, or visit the website where all the panels are available to view online.
The STPC Coalition works diligently to disseminate actionable information about ways in which Americans can help Christians worldwide who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Especially in light of immense global oppression, raising awareness about Christian persecution is crucial, as violence toward and imprisonment of Christians occurs so routinely it rarely makes the news.
For example, according to Open Doors, 255 Christians are killed worldwide every month. 104 Christians are abducted. 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage. 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial. And 66 churches are attacked. Every month.
With such staggering statistics, and the knowledge that most of these crimes are not covered in the media, the STPC Coalition developed a dedicated news aggregator—www.ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution that do make the news and to provide readers an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.
One of the simple and economical ways Americans can render support is by encouraging their pastors and faith leaders to visit www.SaveThePersecutedChristians.org and to order a free banner to display in front of their houses of worship. These simple banners feature a graphic “Save Us” plea with a cross and the coalition’s website where Americans can learn about the global persecution of Christians and find out more about what they can do to help stop it.
With so much of the world’s population attacked, imprisoned or exiled for their beliefs—such as the Christians featured in “The People of the Cross” exhibit—the need for the sort of movement the STPC Coalition is working to foster has never been greater. Its efforts are modeled after a campaign that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution, Soviet Jews, by holding its persecutors in the Kremlin accountable and imposing real costs for its repression of people of faith. The Coalition’s movement in our time aims to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate the suffering of those persecuted simply because they follow Jesus Christ.