Displaying items by tag: Christian persecution
After fleeing from North Korea to China, Prisoner 42 was captured and sent to a North Korean prison camp, where she spent one year in solitary confinement. Guards shaved her head and stripped her. Each morning when they called for her, she crawled out of a door flap, typically used for dogs or cats, and kept her head bowed low because she was not allowed to make eye contact with the guards. They would ask her the same questions, ‘Why were you in China? Who did you meet? Did you go to church? Did you have a Bible? Did you meet any South Koreans? Are you a Christian?’ She lied to stay alive. She was beaten and kicked daily. She said,’ It hurts the most when they hit my ears. My ears ring for hours, sometimes days’. She was later sent to a re-education camp where she met other secret Christians. After two years she was released from detention.
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron and Conservative MP Steve Baker stand united by their Christian faith and conviction that all have the right to freedom of conscience and religion, and it must be protected everywhere. 80% of Montenegrins are Orthodox Christians, yet worshippers, including the Archbishop, have been arrested. Parishioners are being beaten and buildings destroyed. One of their bishops has written of his arrest, along with hundreds of others. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets to defend their church and freedom of expression. The British MPs say, ‘It is important for Britain and her allies to act, and in haste. In recent days, with further Christian arrests, it is clear the authorities do not intend to pause. We should not stand by and allow political avarice to transcend the right to freedom of faith. There must be a reckoning.’ Pray for peace in society and safety for people.
The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book, yet the history of Bible translations is contentious and bloody. Many translators were burned at the stake. Today Islam is spreading, and in some countries Bibles are a rare commodity. Please pray for people groups without a Bible in their mother tongue. Pray for organisations like the Bible Society, Wycliffe, and many others translating and distributing God's Word. May the translators have Holy Spirit discernment to accurately depict the original text into the various cultures and dialects. Pray for those publishing scriptures in print, audio, visual, braille, technical devices and various advanced layouts. May the distribution avenues they use be unobstructed. Pray also for God's protection for Christians being persecuted for living by God’s word in hostile dangerous environments. May all believers have safe spaces in which to study, grow in their faith, and share God's teaching.
‘If anything happens to my pastor, I will not fear. I will take charge of his work and serve the Lord!’ This brave declaration was made by Samaru Madkami, aged 14, from Odisha State. He had good reason to expect his pastor to die, as Christians in their area face hostility and violence from extremists in the Hindu majority. Samaru’s father, a church elder, had received death threats. But it was Samaru himself who was abducted and brutally murdered by the extremists, not long after he had made his courageous pledge. He went missing on 4 June and his body was found two days later. The gang who killed him also tried to seize a cousin of Samaru’s but, being older and stronger, he managed to get away. ‘Samaru was a passionate Christian’, said his pastor, recalling how the boy had energetically shared the Gospel with other young people and children in the village.
‘The incessant killing is more dangerous than coronavirus’, said a community leader in central Nigeria recently. His reaction is one of several testimonies - frequently harrowing to read, let alone to have experienced - which feature in an Inquiry into the scale of death and destruction caused by conflict occurring along the Christian-Muslim fault line running across the ‘Middle Belt’ of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. The inquiry, published on 15 June by the UK parliament, had been taking evidence since autumn 2018. Since the coronavirus pandemic, violence appears to have grown even as international media have been otherwise occupied. The report, Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide, said, ‘Violence has claimed the lives of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more, causing untold human and economic devastation and heightening existing ethno-religious tensions.’
Xiao, the wife of Qin Defu, an imprisoned pastor, writes, ‘I am begging for prayers for my family and me. Defu has been in jail over six months.’ At first she received short phone calls from him but she has now not heard from him for over 70 days. She said, ‘My reasoning makes me believe he is alive, and God is with him. However, not hearing from him is like an enemy. It hurts me so much that I suffer every day. I just want to receive one three-minute call from him, but this apparently has become an extravagant hope. Dear God, please let me follow behind You, pulling on the hem of Your clothes, I know my weakness, so I am begging for my brothers and sisters to pray for me and Qin Defu. God, please, out of charity, give us mercy. We are so lowly we cannot bear it.’
The Xingguang house church refused to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement. On 3 May security officers burst into a house church gathering for worship. The men who were guarding the door were pinned down, and worshippers were forcefully dragged away. Calling the meeting illegal, the officers demanded that church members stop recording with their cell phones and then confiscated them. However, a short video clip has been made available Throughout the proceedings no warrant was presented. Some Christians were injured and one was hospitalised. Six of the worshippers were detained for several hours. The authorities issued an order officially banning their church gathering. Pray that the members of this church will find ways to continue encouraging one another and grow stronger in their faith.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) wants India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria and Vietnam to be put on a religious freedom blacklist and join the ranks of ‘countries of particular concern’. That would make them subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records. Countries already on this list include China, Iran, and North Korea. The commission noted that India’s nationalist government ‘allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence.’ Minority Christians have been among those targeted. It remained unclear whether the state department would follow the USCIRF's advice because India is an increasingly close US ally. The USCIRF's annual report is watched worldwide as an independent way of monitoring, analysing and reporting on threats to religious freedom abroad.
Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen was chair of the Christian Democrats from 2004 to 2015; as interior minister she had responsibility for church affairs. On 2 March she faced a police investigation because of a tweet she posted last year directed at the leadership of her church, questioning its sponsorship of the LGBT event ‘Pride 2019’, and quoting a Bible text. After a lengthy police interview last November, she now faces a second interrogation about a pamphlet she wrote 16 years ago on human sexuality for a Christian foundation. These sorts of cases create a culture of fear and censorship and are becoming common throughout Europe. In a free society, everyone should be allowed to share their beliefs without fear of censorship. Finland has a number of laws to regulate speech, including the ‘ethnic agitation’ law which carries a prison sentence of up to two years.
As well as targeting individuals for exercising their freedom of religion and belief, Tajikistan’s regime also targets Christian communities. For example, the Full Gospel Protestant Church's two buildings in northern Tajikistan have both been confiscated. One of them had a vision in 2018 for a kindergarten to open there - but in 2020 there is still no sign of it. Between August 2019 and January 2020, the state fined leaders of four Protestant churches between £574 and £902 each (the average monthly offering in some of these churches is £41, the average monthly salary about £123). ‘They were fined for arranging a translation of the Bible into modern Tajik’, a local Protestant said. The translation is needed as some Christians think that other translations use archaic words and some passages are unclear.