Displaying items by tag: Persecution
The devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion is heartbreaking, and the atrocities committed are galling. Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced. Tens of thousands have been killed. When the conflict ends, rebuilding will take years, or even decades. Even more complicated will be the healing of trauma experienced and, hopefully, an eventual reconciliation with its neighbour. Pray for the intervention of the God who makes wars cease to the ends of the earth and who breaks the bow and shatters the spear (Psalm 46:9). Pray Psalm 10:17-18 over Ukraine – that the Lord will hear the desire of the afflicted, encourage them, and listen to their cries. Pray for wisdom from above, and divine fortitude for Ukraine’s leaders and its people. Ukraine’s rich Christian heritage began in the Slavic world in Kyiv 1,000 years ago. Churches suffered greatly in the Soviet era. Next there was hostility from the Orthodox Church for other expressions of Christianity. Evangelicals have emerged from many years of persecution with larger numbers and stronger faith.
President Herzog acknowledged that ‘ultra-nationalist Jews attacking Christians is on the rise’. Attacks of stones, eggs and rotten fruit are regularly thrown into Jerusalem’s New Polish House. Aggressors broke into the sisters’ private property at nighttime, smashing pots and damaging the front door. Also, several dozen Breslov Hasidic extremists have entered a Catholic church eight times in the early hours, praying and alleging, incorrectly, Elisha’s tomb is there so they can claim Jewish rights over the church property. Police removed them. In a video, Dormition Abbey’s abbot was escorting the German federal minister of Education by the Western Wall when he was asked by an Israeli official to hide the cross he was wearing; saying the cross is ‘really big and inappropriate for this place. It's a Jewish place, you must respect that.’ Pray for God to encourage Christian communities and for church leaders to respond wisely and appropriately to opposition.
The Iranian authorities are doubling down on policing and severely oppressing Iranian women and girls for defying the return of the morality law which insists women and girls wear headscarves in public with police patrols enforcing obedience. Social media is showing women being violently assaulted by officials and the people helping them to escape are being targeted by the police firing tear gas See At the same time, a clampdown on religious minorities also needs a prayerful response. Over 50 believers were arrested on unknown charges immediately following the reinstatement of the morality police. ‘The reason for this sudden surge in nationwide arrests of Christians is unclear at this stage,’ Article18’s advocacy director Mansour Borji says. ‘What is obvious is that Iran has begun a fresh crackdown on civil liberties, and the traditionally vulnerable groups, like Christians, are on the front line of those targeted.’
Russians are closing evangelical Protestant churches claiming ‘only one faith would be tolerated - Orthodoxy’. They raided Grace Baptist Church while a worship service was being broadcast live. Viewers watched online while they halted the service, registered the names of all present, detained several ministers, and gave the pastor 48 hours to leave the city. They closed Melitopol’s largest Protestant charismatic church with a 1,000-seat auditorium. They tore down its cross and turned the building into a ‘cultural sports entertainment complex’. They are doing the same as they did when they seized and annexed Crimea: they raided places of worship, closed churches, banned missionary activity, fined people for leading worship meetings, seized religious literature, and forced religious communities to re-register with the state, refusing re-registration to the majority. Christians were also driven to the underground churches in the Soviet era, surviving seventy years of Soviet totalitarian rule - demonstrating that persecution can often strengthen the Church.
In the Chinese ankang (peace and health) system detainees are strapped onto beds, pumped full of drugs, receive electric-shock therapy, and are left to lie in their own excrement. Some are confined for their entire lifetimes. The system is grounded in the Communist Party's optimistic totalitarian notion that medical treatment can make people obedient. Medics administer drugs that damage prisoners’ central nervous systems, intentionally overdosing them, apply extreme-strength electroacupuncture, and brutally force-feed them. This abuse of psychiatry has continued for seven decades in the People's Republic of China. The Communist Party has changed the organisational structures and the methods of how it destroys people in psychiatric institutions, but the destruction of life continues. Safeguard defenders, and the international community, must finally acknowledge that the Party is inherently murderous. The only way to end the abuse of psychiatry in China as well as the Party's other horrific crimes is to end its rule.
In Afghanistan, after America and its allies withdrew, the Taliban controlled the government, declaring an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, employing harsh tactics to expose Christians. This has brought persecution in Afghanistan to its highest levels since the Taliban’s first government in 1996. In Nigeria Fulani Militants, the largest nomadic ethnic group, have killed tens of thousands of Christians and left many more homeless since 2000. Having seen increasing violence against Nigeria’s Christian population in the Middle Belt, it is alleged that the Fulani militant aggression is aided by stakeholders within the Nigerian government. Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s Supreme Leader, exerts control over every aspect of Iranian life, both physically and spiritually. As an Islamic republic, Iran poses severe limits on the ability of Christians to practice their religion, enforcing a hardline regime that allows the brutal torture and execution of many Iranian Christians.
For twenty years Nigerian Christians have suffered attack after attack, with little to no response from the largely Muslim government. Anti-Christian violence is often swept under the carpet. On 20 March community members had just finished their church worship when armed insurgents arrived with sophisticated weapons, an eyewitness told International Christian Concern. ‘Twenty-five people were killed and over 100 houses burnt down.’ He added that the evening attack occurred from 7 to 10 pm, without any intervention by the Nigerian army. The total number of casualties is yet to be released. ‘We are now hiding, our church and houses burnt; we are sleeping outside tonight’, said another eyewitness. Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the world for persecution. Due to violent terrorist groups and government indifference, tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced.
A missionary’s message: ‘There is much happening right now. Persecution and hardships abound, yet our Mighty Lord reigns over it all! One member of our team and his young family have been receiving threatening messages due to their ministry work, and we have had to relocate them to a new city. Pray with us that they will remain safe and be able to continue their work for the Lord. Another team member was arrested crossing a border between Jordan and Lebanon. Pray with us for favour before the judge and for a quick resolution to the false charges. Despite these hardships, our team has also reported many praises of how God has been at work. A sewing workshop will take place this week to train persecuted women, providing skills to help sustain them and their families. We praise God for this opportunity to serve these women and offer training, hope and a way forward with dignity.’
Despite 2018’s change in leadership, Cuban churches face unrelenting pressure from a government that views churches as a threat to the revolution that began in the 1950s. Cubans are poor, and the government seeks to control every aspect of their lives. In April 2021, Miguel Diaz-Canel was announced as first secretary of the Communist Party, the first leader since the revolution who is not a Castro. Three months later Cubans protested over deteriorating living conditions and called for an end to dictatorship. Most Cubans are atheists and many engage in superstitious and spiritist practices, including Afro-Cuban Santeria. 11% are evangelical Christians. The government persecutes them and seizes churches. Believers meet in illegal house churches which are growing through active evangelism. Many Cubans have never owned a Bible. Many are closely watched and effectively under house arrest. Many are denied jobs. Pray for those distributing Bibles and supporting discipleship and evangelism.
India has the second-largest Christian population in Asia, but a recent report states that over 300 attacks on Christians took place in the first nine months of 2021. 169 of them were in four states: BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, tribal-dominated Jharkhand, and BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. At least nine states have planned anti-conversion laws, including Chhattisgarh which has emerged as a ‘new laboratory’ for anti-Christian hatred in India. Over 1,000 people recently gathered for a Stop Religious Conversions rally - one in a series of events organised in the garb of anti-conversion protests. Addressing the gathering, a far-right Hindu leader urged the people to ‘arm themselves with axes to teach Christians indulging in conversions a lesson’.