Displaying items by tag: Christians
Despite the pandemic, the Winter Olympic Games hosted by China are expected to go ahead as normal. However human rights groups have raised concern over the religious freedom violations carried out there. US president Joe Biden has already introduced a diplomatic boycott, followed by other nations including the UK. Now Christians are being urged to play their part in standing in solidarity with persecuted brothers and sisters in China. Open Doors and a former US ambassador for religious freedom are calling for action, saying, ‘In the USA people of faith are woefully ignorant of the plight of their fellow believers in China. The persecution of Chinese Christians is rarely if ever mentioned in American megachurches. Raising awareness has been a long, slow struggle for organisations exposing religious persecution in China and elsewhere’. They are calling for Christians to break their silence, pray and fast, and pressurise their politicians to act.
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’.
Luka Binniyat, a Christian journalist, faces three years’ imprisonment after reporting on attacks against Christian communities and critical assessments of the government’s response. He was arrested on 4 November and charged with electronically transmitting information ‘known to be false’. Many believe his arrest is aimed at silencing dissenting voices and intimidating Luka and Kaduna communities. Luka has persistently challenged the government on issues of security and killings in southern Kaduna. This charge follows his report on police failing to make any arrests after gunmen killed 35 people in two separate attacks on churches. He said, ‘In Nigeria, police decry massacres as “wicked” but make no arrests’. Pray for Luka’s release and for an end to criminalisation of journalism. Meanwhile bandits invaded Emmanuel Baptist Church, service killing two, seriously injuring three, and kidnapping 66. Rev Joseph Hayab said, ‘The abducted worshippers are in danger and require urgent government intervention.’ The insecurity in Kaduna state has grown beyond imagination and is threatening Nigeria’s peace.
Iranians across the world have joined a Bible reading plan organised by the Bible Society. Nahid, a Christian worker, says it is a great way for these Christians to connect with each other. If they think they are alone, they can get depressed, but when they are reading scripture with another sister or brother, it is healing. This Bible reading plan has been especially helpful during the pandemic. Iranian Christians love Jesus with all their hearts, and seek to show His love to the world. But some in the West are still not ready to see them as Christians.
Many Afghan Christians have fled from cities to remote regions to escape Taliban detection; others are hiding in communities. World Mission’s Greg Kelley learned of a Christian leader caught by the Taliban, who publicly tortured and executed him. Continue to pray for Afghan believers, in hiding and meeting in secret locations. Now, with the borders to neighbouring countries closed, they have nowhere to turn. With winter approaching they face extreme difficulties. It is exceedingly difficult to get aid into Afghanistan to meet their needs. Many want to leave because they are known to the Taliban or other extremists. Ask God to protect them and help mission agencies to arrange for their safe escape. Things are changing dramatically in Afghanistan, and those who suffer the most are the weak and vulnerable. Pray for wise short-term strategies to address the needs of elderly, sick and frail refugees.
Many believe Iran and IS are ready to jump in and fill the void as Joe Biden withdraws troops from Iraq by the end of this year. They are emboldened because of the fall of Afghanistan. IS had apparently been absolutely defeated in Iraq, but it restarted in 2019. In the last three months they have been aggressively reorganising, setting up checkpoints and attacking Christians and others around the Kirkuk area. Iran is also showing its infiltration and its might against American interests inside Iraq. Meanwhile, the prime minister has encouraged over one million Christians who fled in recent years to return. Christians still in Iraq warn that there has not been sufficient change to guarantee safety. Open Doors questioned the wisdom of the government statement, saying, ‘How can Christians return to Iraq while many are still living in undignified conditions and facing persecution from Sunni and Shia fundamentalists?’ See
After raising over $28 million to rescue Afghan Christians, Glenn Beck shares an update. ‘Seven years after the IS blitzkrieg, there is revival in northern Syria. The establishment of Islamic government provides ripe soil for the Church to grow. The Afghan Church is determined to do the same. They are still actively meeting, studying the scriptures together and sharing the gospel. We have heard a report about Christians sharing the gospel with Taliban members who came into their village, and they have actually been engaging in Bible studies and prayer.’ While it is often the sensational reports or heroic action that make headlines, Richardson said Afghanistan's Christians are just real people choosing to live out their faith. ‘They say they are scared. Many of them are in despair, but it is in that weakness that they're still pushing forward and they are finding sweetness in all of it.’ he said.
A convoy of 100+ Christians, including at least fifteen families, will leave Afghanistan to make a new life in Pakistan. It is not a hospitable country for Christians, but Afghanistan has become much worse with the Taliban in charge. Leaders of house churches have already received threatening letters from the Taliban, warning them that they know where they are and what they are doing. They are ‘on a list.’ The convoy is being led by a pastor who serves ten Afghan house churches. He was a Muslim until his life was turned around when someone shared the Gospel with him. The ages of the people in this convoy range from three months to 70 years. There are no buses, no trains running between Afghanistan and Pakistan: so this convoy will be taking, for lack of a better word, taxis. Ask God to give them strength and ask Him to frustrate the plans of any wanting to stop them.
Incredibly, many believe Afghanistan has the second-fastest growing church in the world, next to Iran. There are reports of Afghan Christians choosing to stay and share the gospel, saying, ‘we don’t care, we’re here because we love this nation, we love our people, and we’re going to share the gospel regardless, even if it means losing our lives.’ In one village that was taken over a few weeks ago, the Christians started sharing Bible stories with the Taliban, some of whom have been studying the Bible and praying. They haven’t made a confession of faith yet but seem very interested. The fearless nature of these believers reminds us of those in the Book of Revelation: ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives unto death.’ We are seeing this in real time.
Over 100 churches have joined forces to help Afghan refugees settle in the UK. Christian charities Welcome Churches and the Hospitality Pledge are encouraging churches to join them in supporting refugees - particularly in areas where the resettlements will be. Dr Krish Kandiah, founder of adoption charity Home for Good and leader of the Hospitality Pledge project, said, ‘It has been so amazing to see churches step forward and get involved. We have identified some of the regions where resettlement hotels will be and are working with the Home Office to provide practical support.’ People arrive with very little, and lightweight clothing - they are cold, even in summer. Churches are sourcing clothing and prams, but the biggest need is accommodation. Groups of 100 are put in hotels, not the best place for families. Dr Kandiah hopes to utilise Christian retreats and conference centres for families, and has launched an emergency Afghan fund.