Displaying items by tag: Christian persecution
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.
Rev Dr Bernard Randall, a former chaplain of Christ’s College, Cambridge, is taking Trent College to court for discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and unfair dismissal after the school reported him - without his knowledge - to the government anti-terror watchdog for a sermon he gave at the school on ‘identity politics’. There has been widespread bewilderment as the story has been covered by newspapers and the internet. How can such a reasonable sermon from a Christian minister provoke the treatment he received? How can you be labelled a terrorist and eventually lose your job in a Christian school for advocating freedom of belief? He says his story sends a message to Christians: ‘You are not free to talk about your faith. It’s not enough to just “tolerate” LGBT ideology. You must accept it without question; no debate is allowed without serious consequences.’
Two and a half years after Chinese authorities arrested Pastor Wang Yi and over a hundred members of Early Rain Church, the congregation is still being harassed for following Christ. Last November elder Yangquan Li was detained for worshiping online from his home; local officials cut off his utilities and internet service. His landlord was also forced to evict him and his family, and they are now closely monitored by police. They are asking Christians to pray for them and for the church. ‘We pray that we depend on God when we lack, because apart from Him we have no good thing’, Yangquan said. ‘We pray God makes us put our trust in Him at this difficult time. We pray the Holy Spirit fills us to respond to our situation with gentleness and respect.’ Despite ongoing persecution, our Christian brothers and sisters in China continue to share the gospel with their neighbours.
Gunmen abducted 39 students, most of whom are Christians, from a college in Kaduna state on 11 March. An armed gang raided the college in Kaduna at 9.30 pm, shooting indiscriminately and rounding up 219 people. Of these, 180 were rescued by the army soon afterwards. Several videos have been released showing the 39 abducted students being threatened, beaten, and whipped. In another video, a male student (named Emmanuel) being held at gunpoint pleads with the government to intervene. He added, ‘Many of us here have been injured - badly injured. Most of us here have health issues.’ Meanwhile we can praise God that Pastor Yakuru, kidnapped by Boko Haram on Christmas Eve 2020, was released on 3 March, the day the terrorists said they would execute him. His release was negotiated by the department of state services and a national charity.
Eritrea remains one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution. Imprisoned Christians are tortured, starved, and forced into hard labour. Conditions are worse for pastors and theological students who are singled out for beatings or have their jail terms extended as a warning to others. Many Christians are held indefinitely, often without trial, not knowing when they will be released. Some are kept in shipping containers, where they are exposed to the searing desert heat by day and cold by night. 69 Christian prisoners were released in September 2020 in Covid-19 control measures. Most had been held for over ten years without trial, some for 16 years. The releases were made on condition that bail securities were lodged, usually in the form of property deeds, with guarantors held liable for the detainees’ future actions. None of the known imprisoned pastors or senior Christian leaders were among those released. Tens of thousands of Christians have fled from Eritrea to Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Israel.
50,000 Christians are being held in North Korean prison camps. Some 3,000 Yazidi girls and women are missing in Iraq. 130,000 Muslims are in internment camps in Burma and as many as 3 million Uighur Muslims are in Chinese concentration camps. China finds two religions particularly problematic for the survival and existence of the Communist Party. Christianity and Islam. A recent report identifies ten countries which are the worst offenders and of particular concern. They are already designated as such by the US state department: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. US and NATO ally Turkey is listed as a tier-two offender. There are also recommendations to add India, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam to the list. See
The Bishop of Truro’s independent review, published in July 2019, explained what the Foreign Office could do to improve the experience of Christians around the world who are currently tortured, discriminated against, or put in prison for their faith. Now DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, a Christian, has asked the Government in a written question, ‘What progress has been made in implementing the Bishop of Truro’s recommendations?’ He was told that ten of the recommendations are fully delivered, good progress has been made on eight, and all 22 will be delivered by 2022.
On 22 March the European Union announced a number of sanctions on Eritrea’s national security office. This positive EU move should hardly be a surprise to the Eritrean government. It has faced sanctions for its human rights and religious freedom violations in the past, earning the nickname of ‘Africa’s North Korea’ for its systematic flaunting of international standards and its insular foreign policy. The recent sanctions target arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances of persons, and torture committed by its agents. Eritrea has a well-documented history of treating its prisoners inhumanely and of targeting religious minorities for particularly harsh treatment. Me’eter Prison, the customary holding place for Eritrean prisoners of conscience, is notorious for its regular use of torture, for example to induce religious recantations. Prisoners are kept in metal shipping containers placed on the open desert floor.
Just one of the Christian prisoners in China is Pastor John Cao (60), serving a seven-year prison sentence for ‘organising illegal border crossings’ between China and Myanmar. He made many trips from America to his native China to establish schools and work among the poor before expanding his humanitarian work into Myanmar. He was detained in 2017 while returning to China from Myanmar and sentenced a year later. His defence lawyer and his mother asked prison authorities to deliver a Bible to him. They refused. His mother writes Bible verses in each letter she sends. Please ask God to bless Pastor John and keep his faith strong, and pray for healing from his various health problems. Pray that he will be released early. Pray for his witness to prisoners and guards, and that others would continue his ministry to the poor.
When Nigerian front-line worker Daniel Zagi was interviewed by Voice of the Martyrs, he used the word ‘pray’ 42 times. ‘If there is anything you want to do for us, pray’, he said. ‘We are here, and we are fighting for the cause of the gospel in the north.’ Many Christians in northern Nigeria have lost loved ones and homes in attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani militants, who seek to drive Christians out and establish an Islamist nation. Many pastors have been forced to flee the region, and entire congregations have been displaced. Nigerian believers need our prayers as they advance the gospel amid these violent attacks. Pray that believers suffering repeated attacks will withstand persecution and persevere in faith. Ask God to comfort all those who have experienced great loss because of this violence.